PETALING JAYA, 10 June 2009: The proposed amendments to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s constitution are not a reaction to recent complaints from the grassroots, R Sivarasa said today.
“These amendments are not a reaction to things that have happened recently,” the PKR vice-president told a press conference at the party headquarters.
“We began our discussions in the beginning of the last quarter of 2008,” Sivarasa said, adding that the committee that reviewed the party’s constitution was set up around that time.
(l-r) Pantai Jerejak state assemblyperson Sim Tze Tzin, PKR communications director Jonson Chong,
PKR vice-president R Sivarasa, PKR information chief Lateefah Koya, PKR supreme council member Animah Ferrar
Sivarasa was responding to the notion that the proposed changes — which include direct elections for top party posts and a more consultative appointment system for state party chiefs — might have been mooted in reaction to dissatisfaction from the ground.
Such dissatisfaction with PKR was most recently revealed in the contents of the Aminah Abdullah recording. In the recording, the former Penang PKR Wanita chief is heard complaining about problems within the party with PKR supreme council member Cheah Kah Peng, and Lim Eng Nam, who is the special officer for Penang state executive councillor Law Choo Kiang.
“We went on a road show in the early part of this year, to present the proposals to our various divisions,” Sivarasa said. “What you are going to see on Saturday is a result of that process.”
Apart from direct elections for top party posts, the proposed amendments also include a 30% quota for women leaders at the central, state and division levels, as well as a lowering of the age limit for PKR Youth wing members from 40 to 35.
The party is also moving to increase its vice-president posts from five to seven.
As PKR now has more than 190 divisions, including in Sabah and Sarawak, Sivarasa said the increase was meant to reflect the party’s current role in national politics.
“This is so that there is more scope for representation. Similar changes are being made for the Youth and Women’s wing,” Sivarasa said.
Party delegates will debate the amendments at an extraordinary national congress on 13 June at the Selangor International Islamic University College convention centre in Kajang.
Sivarasa noted that the special congress to debate these constitutional changes was originally planned for February, but had to be postponed due to the Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau, and Batang Ai by-elections.
PKR communications director Jonson Chong said the amendments were mooted because PKR was growing rapidly.
“We need to streamline a lot of the processes,” Chong said. “We also want our constitution to reflect our progressive roots.”
SivarasaCommenting on the tussle between PKR and DAP for the Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP) presidency in Penang, Sivarasa admitted that there might be a genuine communication problem between the two Pakatan Rakyat (PR) member parties.
“But it is good that the disagreements come out. These help us to overcome problems within the coalition,” Sivarasa said.
“If people think that this is PR falling apart, they’re wishing for something that won’t happen,” he added.
Alam Flora contracts
Sivarasa also commented on recent concerns about the distribution of Alam Flora contracts in Selangor. Local councillor A Thiruvenggadam claimed on 8 June that the state divides Alam Flora’s waste management contracts to political parties in the following manner: 40% to PKR, 30% to PAS, and 30% to DAP.
“He can claim what he wants,” Sivarasa said, noting that Alam Flora contracts were fixed in number and value.
“This is a situation unlike a tender system in which firms with the lowest quotation gets the contract,” Sivarasa said, adding that the parties merely recommended candidates for the job.
“At the end of the day, the decision of who gets the contracts is made by Alam Flora itself,” Sivarasa added.