KUALA LUMPUR, 12 June 2009: Parti Keadilan Raykat (PKR) will hold a special congress tomorrow to approve its widescale proposed reforms, which, among others, will propose the direct election of its president and limit the term of the party presidency.
The reforms are likely to be approved by some 2,000 delegates without much problem, and PKR will then be able to project itself as a more democratic and appealing party to grassroot members.
The question that lingers is the future of the party, which was established about 10 years ago following the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as deputy prime minister.
Political analysts are of the opinion that for the party to be viable, PKR will have to come up with long-term strategies, and not just amend the constitution to make the party more democratic.
“In order to be viable, they have to think of the reality of the party with or without Anwar,” said Dr Oh Ei Sun.
Wan Azizah He said PKR had to face the prospect of the party being without Anwar, its adviser, and ensure that changes were made to the current situation where most of the power would be centred on Anwar’s wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, being president.
“Even with the existing provisions in the party, with the party president being elected by the delegates, Anwar is still effectively running the party. Therefore, a new round of reforms will only be meaningful if the party walks the talk,” he said.
Apart from amending the party constitution to allow more democratic changes, Oh said the party also needed to decide on a clear definition for Anwar’s role in the party, either limiting it to the advisory role or allowing him to effectively run the party.
“Do they really practise it? Let say, if the party results are not to the liking of party leaders, how would the results be received and implemented?” Oh cited the recently concluded PAS election as a clear example.
For political analyst James Wong, what is important is for PKR to take more steps to institutionalise the party rather than continue with the current personality-based approach.
“You have to do it, otherwise you won’t survive. You must remember that Anwar’s sodomy trial is coming up next month. You cannot be depending on one or two personalities to survive,” he said.
Wong said now was the right time for PKR to be institutionalised in order for the party to move forward with or without Anwar.
Another analyst, Khoo Kay Peng, however felt that the notion that the party was solely based on Anwar was not accurate.
He said in last year’s general election, the party mostly adopted a stand based on issues, not on personality issues involving Anwar.
Anwar and his shadow However, there was no doubt that the party is not out of Anwar’s shadow yet, he said.
“What the party actually needs in future is to groom a group of leaders as the party is growing bigger and cannot be dominated by any particular person. At the same time, [it needs to] be selective in its candidates for the next general election.
“If they don’t groom a team, they will find it difficult to find another person to replace him (Anwar). They need to work and strengthen who is in power, instititionalise and build a more permanent committee,” he said.
However, for PKR strategic director Tian Chua, the amendments to the party constitution tomorrow already show that the party is moving towards creating being movement-oriented and modern, with progressive and democratic values as well as reform programmes.
“This is the process to build a modern political institution for good governance,” he said. — Bernama