PKR’s leadership retreat goes into full swing this weekend at the opulent five-star Lexis Hibiscus resort in Port Dickson.
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the Port Dickson MP, kicked things off last night with a short speech calling for the party to resolve its problems amid boiling tensions with his deputy Azmin Ali.
Malaysiakini walks readers through the retreat to see what is going on and what they can expect to happen.
What are they doing?
The weekend session for both days will start off with morning exercise and tai chi sessions on the white sands of the Lexis Hibiscus’ private stretch of beach.
After exercise and breakfast, the leaders will gather back at the hotel’s junior ballroom to listen to speeches from top party leaders – with the topic being party unity and what they’re fighting for.
There is also a presentation on public support for Pakatan Harapan by Institut Darul Ehsan, as well as a dialogue with coalition leaders, with Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu scheduled to speak.
The retreat will also present an opportunity for PKR leaders, especially junior and first-time lawmakers in Parliament and the states to network with more senior figures.
Are Azmin and his supporters boycotting the retreat?
Azmin’s absence from the retreat’s opening last night has set tongues wagging, especially after tensions between him and Anwar boiled over during the week following the PKR president’s remarks that his deputy should resign if a sex video implicating him was real.
While most leaders spotted yesterday are aligned to Anwar, notable Azmin stalwarts and those who were part of his party election team last year were also present.
This includes PKR vice-president Dr Xavier Jayakumar, and central committee members Elizabeth Wong (photo, above) and Rashid Hasnon.
PKR vice-president Tian Chua has said that he will also be attending, while other Azmin-camp leaders such as appointed vice-president Ali Biju, and PKR women’s chief Haniza Talha are scheduled to speak.
Speaking to Malaysiakini last night, Wong said the absence of certain leaders should not be viewed negatively.
She said PKR leaders who are also ministers such as Zuraida Kamaruddin and Saifuddin Abdullah are unable to turn up because they have official duties to attend to.
“So certain things can’t be avoided. There are also others who can’t make it because they’re ill or abroad, so they just write to the secretariat to inform them that they can’t make it.
“It’s not a meeting or retreat where attendance is compulsory,” she said.
Rashid, who described himself as a moderate force who wants to get the Anwar and Azmin camps together, also hoped the deputy president will turn up for his scheduled speech tonight.
Will there be peace in PKR after the retreat?
Anwar’s speech last night and a tweet he sent out earlier indicated that the PKR president may be looking to bury the hatchet with Azmin.
Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has been steadfastly defending Azmin against the sex scandal allegations, also called on PKR to resolve their in-fighting last night.
Kota Anggerik assemblyperson Najwan Halimi, who was previously aligned to Azmin prior to contesting as a third force in the PKR Youth election last year, was also optimistic.
“I expect all leaders including the deputy president will turn up, and we believe despite the differences, the party’s future is our main priority and this retreat will return the spirit of unity,” Najwan told Malaysiakini.
PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil also said likewise, indicating that at least one side is willing to extend an olive branch.
However, Wong was more reserved saying “there must first be justice before peace”.
“At the end of this, I don’t expect miracles. Let’s be realistic, things can’t be resolved within 48 hours.
“But we want to see Anwar as the president to look into our grievances and also our suggestions on how to bring the party together. He has to play a role,” she said.
PKR had been divided between those aligned to Anwar and Azmin for years but the situation exacerbated over the past month following the circulation of a sex video implicating the latter.
Speculation has been rife that the video is related to the tussle over the prime minister’s post following claims that Mahathir preferred Azmin to succeed him despite an earlier agreement that Anwar would inherit the reins.
Azmin, who is also economic affairs minister, is convinced that those responsible for the video are from within PKR.
On Thursday, Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador revealed that the leader of a political party was the mastermind behind a “wicked plot” to tarnish Azmin’s reputation.
Anwar has denied involvement but his political secretary was among those detained in connection with the case.
The police also said while the video is most likely authentic, the facial recognition process failed to confirm that Azmin was one of the two men recorded engaging in sexual acts.
Former Santubong PKR Youth chief Haziq Abdullah Abdul Rahman, who is currently in police detention, had claimed to be the person in the video and alleged that Azmin was the other man.