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Anwar-Azmin feud reaches boiling point

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Deputy chief Azmin and his loyalists plan to boycott PKR's national convention next month

The feud between Malaysia's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Azmin Ali has reached a point of no return.

Mr Azmin and several others are planning not to attend the party's national convention in Melaka from Dec 5 to 7.

Their absence amounts to a boycott and Mr Azmin's non-appearance, in particular, would signal that the fallout between him and Mr Anwar is at breaking point.

To compound the situation, the Wanita wing and the faction aligned with the youth wing's deputy chief, Mr Hilman Idham, will be inviting Mr Azmin to launch their convention.

The move is in defiance of PKR youth wing chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir's decision to disinvite Mr Azmin.

"It is so messy. Organising a parallel event is not the right thing to do. It won't be recognised," said Selangor youth wing chief Najwan Halimi.

Yesterday, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian and some 18 division chiefs boycotted the state convention in Miri, a signal that all is not well in the state.

One of Mr Anwar's long-time comrades, Dr Mansor Othman, told The Star: "I am not going (to the convention). I have told Anwar in the face: I did not abandon you my brother, but you have forgotten your friends. You pushed me away."

There is a mutiny in the making and Mr Anwar will be presiding over the national convention as president of a party divided.

"It's the first time something like this has happened in our party," said Mr Khalid Jaafar, who is adviser to Mr Azmin.

"People used to criticise Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail's leadership but we still managed to grow from small to big under her. Now, a year after Anwar took over, there is a bigger crisis than ever before."

The rebellion will cast a pall over the national convention and the focus of the delegates will be divided between projecting Mr Anwar as the next Prime Minister and the deepening split in the party.

On the other hand, Mr Azmin and his faction risk facing a backlash if they attend the congress.

They may be the object of criticism and jeers from supporters of Mr Anwar who are angered by Mr Azmin's oft-repeated support for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to see a full term as Prime Minister. They think it goes against the party's stand that their party president assume the premiership by May 2020.

Those aligned with Mr Anwar say he risks coming across as weak by not taking disciplinary action against Mr Azmin as well as vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin because "they are walking all over the president".

Sources say several reports have been lodged with disciplinary committee chairman Ahmad Kassim and that action has been recommended but Mr Anwar is reluctant to act.

Mr Anwar needs to keep the party and its 50 MPs together in order to strengthen his claim to the top job.

Sacking Mr Azmin would mean losing as many as 15 MPs who are said to be loyal to him. His party would go from the biggest in Parliament to second place after DAP.

He is obviously biding his time until he moves up before bringing down the axe.

Mr Anwar's political secretary Farhash Wafa Salvador said the action of the Azmin group is "close to treason".

"They do not attend meetings but talk about party tradition and rules. No one is bigger than the party. It's obvious their agenda is to get sacked and form their own party," said Mr Farhash, thePerak PKR chief.

Mr Anwar's troubles with Mr Azmin began almost immediately after the party election last year. Things quickly went downhill between the top two after Mr Anwar appointed his people to the supreme council and political bureau to shore up support.

"The way he runs the party is not a good reflection of how he will manage the country," said Mr Khalid, in a parting shot.

This article is from The Star. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Star.