May 31, 2010
PKR comes of age
KOTA BARU: As befits a party that is a partner in four state administrations, PKR used its congress this weekend more as an occasion to evaluate its performance than an opportunity to indulge in its traditional preoccupation of UMNO-bashing.
This was evident in both the issues raised in the speeches in the assembly hall and the comments made in media interviews on the sidelines.
Nearly all of the 40-odd speakers at the party’s sixth national congress here showed concern over such issues as the effectiveness of policies and their implementation and the quality of leadership that PKR had to offer.
The spotlight shone mostly on Selangor, the only Pakatan-ruled state where PKR is the leading partner.Vice-president Azmin Ali, in a highly charged speech that wound up the presidential keynote address, emphasised on improving the management of Selangor, which has lately been a target of much criticism resulting from revelations of alleged corruption in sand mining.
Azmin called for consistency and an unwavering attitude in the PKR struggle against corruption and power abuse.
He also said that the party must not let itself be too overwhelmed and distracted by defections and other obstacles its enemies were trying to place on its path. The road to Putrajaya, he added, must run through each of the four Pakatan states. “People want to see a proven track record before they commit themselves fully to supporting the alliance,” he said.
Secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, presenting his latest report, said PKR had recorded some 500,000 members to date. However, he devoted most of his speech to exhorting members to ensure that the party focused on good governance and on synergy between itself and the other two Pakatan parties — PAS and DAP.
Almost all of the 20-member supreme council, including former MCA leader Chua Jui Meng, addressed the controversy surrounding the leadership of Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and many defended him.
Khalid explained at the podium that fighting corruption was the forte of his state administration. However, he chose not to dwell on issues specific to Selangor, devoting most of his speech to the need to groom the young to take over from the present generation of leaders.
V Arumugam, deputy chairman of Kedah PKR, spoke to reporters about the party’s growing-up pains, saying it was time to get over it.He said PKR must concentrate its efforts on playing an effective role as part of the parliamentary opposition while paying equal attention to governing Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Kelantan.
He also called for better coordination among all members of PKR, PAS and DAP. Even the upcoming party elections in December took a back seat as delegates pleaded for PKR leaders to give due attention to issues of governance and to listen more attentively to voices from the grassroots.
Party adviser Anwar Ibrahim, winding up the proceedings, urged the party to remain resolute and promised that he would give his “undivided attention” to Selangor.
Anwar, who is officially the economic adviser to the Selangor government, said the state must cut bureaucratic red tape in the interest of speeding up growth.”It is tough, 50 years under Barisan Nasional and only two years under PKR. But we must strive to improve ourselves in Selangor.”