By Neville Spykerman
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — PKR’s de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim played down today Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s six months’ leave of absence from the party, but conceded there were problems in the opposition party.
“He is still in the party and still in the leadership.” said Anwar, who added the former Umno law minister would be going to perform the Haj during his leave of absence.
Anwar said he did not understand why Zaid's leave was being interpreted in such a negative manner.
“I concede, yes we have to address this, if there are issues to be discuss.” said Anwar, but he blamed the media for sending the negative signal that there was serious infighting in the party and that PKR was unravelling.
Anwar said the problems in PKR were not as major as those in MCA, MIC or even in Umno.
On Friday, Zaid said he would not be attending PKR political bureau meetings because he did not want to be “constrained” and instead wanted to concentrate on his primary purpose of establishing a common platform for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition.
PKR insiders have indicated that Zaid’s decision stems from infighting and his decision to visit Sabah where local leaders are in open revolt over PKR vice-president Azmin Ali's appointment as state chief.
"He (Zaid) is very much in touch with us. He is now in Sabah and later, will be joining the PKR president in Sarawak for a function," said Anwar, who was speaking at the Hari Raya open house of his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, the Lembah Pantai MP.
Anwar said there was no problem with Zaid being in Sabah.
He said the party’s stand was that national leaders should only attend functions organised by branches or divisions which had been endorsed by the state leadership.
Anwar said the reports about the open revolt in Sabah and Sarawak, where local PKR leaders oppose the appointment of Peninsular Malaysia-based vice-presidents Mustafa Kamil Ayub and Azmin as state leaders, were exaggerated and misleading.
He said the appointment of both leaders was a temporary measure and they have been given till the end of the month to obtain consensus on who locals want to lead them.
Meanwhile, Anwar said Zaid may have taken his leave of absence because he is under pressure to strengthen PR as a formal coalition which was the main priority entrusted to him.
“The leaders of all the component parties have agreed that this is our priority.”
However, he said no time frame has been set.
Anwar also denied the problems in PKR were contributed because he had taken his foot off the pedal by travelling overseas rather than handling party matters.
Anwar said he only started going overseas in October and that most of his trips were during the weekends and there was no disruption in his party’s affairs.
He defended his trips and said the international networking was important in the interest of civil society, democracy and international understanding.
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