Anwar in dilemma over calls to sack Zuraida, says analyst

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst believes PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is faced with a dilemma over calls to expel vocal vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin.

Forcing her out might cost Anwar his chances of taking over as the next prime minister, while retaining her would embolden her to be a thorn in the party’s side, the analyst said.

Two other analysts who spoke to FMT said, however, they believed Anwar would have no choice but to agree that she must go, in order to strengthen his position as party leader.

Zuraida’s expulsion would have serious repercussions, says Azmi Hassan, a lecturer with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

She is supported by PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, and his camp would not take her expulsion lightly. The resulting internal turmoil could lead to an exodus of members, which Anwar would want to avoid.

“The situation is quite complicated and not as straight forward as the state chiefs are perhaps trying to portray,” Azmi said.

That was why he does not think Anwar will succumb to demands for action against her for purportedly insulting the party and skipping 13 PKR central leadership council meetings.

She has been issued a show-cause letter and must respond within 14 days.

Azmi said Anwar needs all the support he can get in order to take over from Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.

“So Anwar is in a dilemma: if he doesn’t sack Zuraida, she will be emboldened to remain a thorn in PKR’s side but sacking her could lead to a revolt,” said Azmi.

As Zuraida is a member of Mahathir’s cabinet, her expulsion from the party could lead to her supporters, and Azmin’s, openly calling for Mahathir to remain as prime minister.

“Anwar needs to play his cards right: if he makes the wrong move on Zuraida, he can say goodbye to the PM job.”

However, analysts James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute and Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia believe that Anwar and PKR would pull the trigger.

“Anwar has no choice but to show that he is the boss and can win the internal battle in PKR to show he can lead,” said Chin.

Chin said PKR’s troubles were unlikely to affect Pakatan Harapan as he believed all component parties were expecting fireworks in PKR and did not really believe there was peace between Azmin and Anwar.

Kamarul said the state chiefs’ call for Zuraida to be sacked was unsurprising as they were all appointed by Anwar.

“If Zuraida is sacked, of course, PKR will ask the PM to replace her as a minister but it depends on the PM to agree to it or not.

“PH will only be affected if PM retains Zuraida in the cabinet despite her sacking from PKR.”

However Azmin may become more critical of Anwar and might taunt PKR into sacking him as well.

He said it was very likely that Zuraida would be sacked, though if she was not, it would make her and Azmin’s camp more daring in their comments and actions.

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