Undoubtedly, the move to allow 400,000 over PKR members to vote directly is indeed a very democratic move. Does this translate to mean that the PKR members now will have the opportunity to make an informed choice of the most suitable candidate? What will the criteria be – loyalty to party or loyalty to party personalities? Capability or pure popularity? Once the results are out, the people will evaluate the quality of PKR.
One may ask: why even have democratic elections in a political party anyway? Arguably, political parties do not have to exercise democracy within the party if they so choose to. They can just stage manage the whole process of electing leaders. Obviously, democracy is exercised in political parties for the following main reasons:
1) 1) To give an opportunity for ordinary members to determine the leadership of the party by exercising their vote. They get to choose who to lead.
2) 2) Secondly, the elected leaders can be held accountable by the party machinery. If you hold no official position, then you cannot be held accountable by the party.
3) 3) The President of the main leader of the political party can give a direction and set its policies which can then be debated by the party members.
The manner in which a party allocates political power to its leaders reflects their true attitude towards the principle of democracy and accountability.
PKR is a peculiar political party when it comes to the allocation of decision making of the party’s direction. Every other political party, be it UMNO, DAP, MCA, MIC or Pas, the main power vests in the President of the party. In PKR, the perception is: the power does not vest in its President, Datin Seri Wan Azizah. She is perceived as a puppet for her husband or a stakeholder until her husband clears his trial. Someone please correct me if I am wrong on this.
Wan Azizah’s husband is perceived to be the main power behind the throne. Her husband has also been nominated to go for the President’s post but I understand he had declined. By default, Wan Azizah wins uncontested. In democratic language, he has refused to allow his acceptance within the party to be tested. In democratic language too, this means that he has missed the opportunity to get the mandate from PKR members to lead them. Hence, he is without mandate, in the democratic sense. Why choose this path when PKR appears to extol democracy?
Long, long time ago (despite my reservations), I used to see PKR as a potentially 1Malaysia kind of party that may bring reforms to the Nation. However, the manner in which the party elections are unfolding especially in the election of the top leaders becomes worrisome for a discerning Rakyat who is evaluating alternatives.
If a political party continues to innovate something called “defacto leader” with vast powers, imagine the same political party taking over the government. You may end up having a democratically elected Prime Ministress with powers held by a defacto leader! This would be a logical conclusion the people are entitled to make based on current behavior of the political party. Am I wrong here?
The other thing that people are watching keenly is the expected results of the race for the Deputy President’s post. I am made to understand the contestants are – the sure winner Azmin Ali the loyalist, the idealistic reformer but not so politically astute Zaid Ibrahim and lastly the Abim Mustapa Ayub. Many say this will be the end of Abim influence in the politics of this country. Times have changed.
It will be a shocker for the Nation and I bet, many people will have a second look at PKR should zaid Ibrahim win.