Is Anwar calling the shots from his hospital bed?

Party insiders say that as a result of the special conditions accorded to him, Anwar was able to have the final say on his party’s candidate list which made headline news.

The government he is trying to overthrow seems to be making it all too easy for him to manage his party from his hospital bed.

The authorities have also not restricted visits from other party leaders.

All of this has raised questions about what is actually going on between Barisan and PKR leaders.

Joceline Tan

It is an open secret by now that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim seems to be calling the shots in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR or the People’s Justice Party) from his hospital bed.

Conspiracy theories are swirling in PKR circles about how Malaysia’s most special prisoner is able to host meetings with party leaders at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital where he has been warded since last week.

Party insiders say that as a result of the special conditions accorded to him, Anwar was able to have the final say on his party’s candidate list which made headline news.

Visiting conditions in Sungai Buloh (the prison where Datuk Seri Anwar is serving a five-year jail term for sodomy) are very strict but access at the Cheras hospital is far more relaxed.

The Ketua Umum or paramount leader as he is known in PKR has been allowed visits from, among others, his wife and party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

The fact that he was conveniently transferred from his Sungai Buloh lock-up to the Cheras facility has sparked all sorts of speculation.

He is not known to be unwell and his shoulder has healed after an operation several months ago. So why is he warded at the Cheras facility?

The government he is trying to overthrow seems to be making it all too easy for him to manage his party from his hospital bed.

Among the stories circulating in PKR is that it is the Government’s way of monitoring the goings-on in PKR, including what is being discussed and planned.

However, the most pervasive theory is that there is some sort of political deal going on between top PKR and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders.

The authorities have also not restricted visits from other party leaders.

It is understood that PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution and vice-presidents Rafizi Ramli and Nurul Izzah Anwar have been seeing Anwar to consult him on the general election.

All of this has raised questions about what is actually going on between Barisan and PKR leaders.

Are they enemies or “frenemies”?

If they really trying to topple each other, then why the special treatment for Anwar and PKR leaders at such a crucial time?

The alignment between the political elites, said a political risk analyst, seems to be so fluid, and this sends out conflicting and mixed signals to the ground.

Meanwhile, the Azmin and Rafizi camps in PKR seem to have reached a compromise of sorts on candidates.

For a while, there were even rumours that Azmin had threatened not to defend his seats in Gombak and Bukit Antarabangsa.

Many of the candidates in Azmin’s list are in and party vice-president Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin, a former Abim (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia) activist, was reinstated in Seri Setia while another Azmin loyalist, Najwan Halimi, was moved to Kota Anggerik.

But things are not exactly back to normal, and perhaps they never will again.

There is distrust between the two camps even though Dr Wan Azizah has said that there is only “one camp” in her party, and that is her camp.

Their social media content suggest some kind of shadow-boxing going on between the top two PKR leaders.

Azmin said on Twitter that, “Nobody can hurt me without my permission”.

The Mahatma Gandhi quote was Azmin’s way of saying that he can take the heat.

Dr Wan Azizah posted a picture of a ginger-coloured cat gazing into a mirror with the reflection of a lion, and the quote: “What matters is how you see yourself”.

Another picture shows the same cat whose shadow cast on the wall is that of a lion.

The president is telling her detractors not to mess with her, that she may seem like a pussycat but there is a lioness in her.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has also been watching the PKR wrangle over seats.

One particular seat – Gurun in Kedah – has stirred concern within the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad circle.

The Gurun state seat was given to PKR’s Datuk Johari Abdul who is also vying for a third term in the Sungai Petani parliamentary seat.

This is not the first time that Johari is going for two seats, but the difference this time is that he is perceived to be vying for the Mentri Besar job if Pakatan Harapan takes Kedah.

His circle do not see anything wrong about that, while the Pribumi circle says it will affect the established trust between the two parties.

Saifuddin may have made history in PKR because he is contesting a parliamentary seat in Kedah and a state seat in Penang island.

Saifuddin is also seen as a potential Deputy Chief Minister for Penang if he wins in the Pantai Jerejak state seat that was vacated by the ex-Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Rashid Hasnon, who has been parachuted to Johor.

Some say that Pakatan is taking voters for granted with such stunts, but the Opposition coalition is still riding high and feels that it can do what it likes.

The writer writes regularly on Malaysian current affairs. The Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media.

Source: The Straits Times

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