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PKR marks 25 years of growth, evolution in special convention tomorrow

Publish date: Sat, 20 Apr 2024, 10:14 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR celebrates its silver jubilee tomorrow with a special convention at the Ideal Convention Centre in Shah Alam, having turned 25 on April 4.

PKR was started in 1998 to defy what was deemed to be an autocratic government, particularly after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's unceremonious sacking as deputy prime minister during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's first tenure as prime minister.

Supporters and founding members from all facets of life took to the streets in a well-documented protest to free Anwar, who is now Prime Minister and the party president, from incarceration.

From its Pakatan Rakyat days going hand-in-hand with DAP and Islamist party Pas, it had moved on to establishing Pakatan Harapan together with DAP and Pas' splinter party, Parti Amanah Negara.

It went on to collaborate with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to form the short-lived federal government after the downfall of Barisan Nasional in the 14th General Election in 2018.

At the time, Anwar was in jail for a second time for sodomy, a charge he said was trumped by the government of ousted prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

He was freed on May 16, 2018, after a royal pardon was granted.

Fast forward five years and three prime ministers later, Anwar and his coalition, this time sans Bersatu, are helming the government together with long time foes-turned-allies, Barisan Nasional.

The unity government, dubbed the 'Madani' administration, continues to contend with its own array of issues, each demanding careful attention.

Since its inception, PKR had traversed a bumpy but notable path of growth and evolution, to meet the dynamic challenges of Malaysia's contemporary political landscape.

On its anniversary on April 4, Anwar had reminded its members that the power they hold was not a privilege, but a trust which should be carried out for the benefit of the people.

He said the party was founded on a strong spirit of "islah" or reform, and that the duties and responsibilities that they carry must bring about meaningful change.

The party's fervent calls for reform echo loudly, yet PKR was seen as yielding only hollow promises as the public continued to criticise the lack of substantive change in the government today.

A party veteran, Pasir Gudang member of parliament (MP) Hassan Abdul Karim has continued to be vocal about PKR's performance, constantly reminding its leadership about the original struggles and visions.

In a lengthy statement on Monday, Hassan highlighted the issue of succession, and if party members could identify candidates to replace Anwar in the future.

With more than a million members nationwide, Hassan said PKR's leaders and supporters must be brave enough to reflect and check on their own strengths, and if they were able to overcome challenges as a multiracial political party.

He had also questioned if PKR still had the support of the Chinese, Indians and Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak, and whether the government's current track record was enough to keep the people's support until the 16th General Election.

This was a momentum that must be sustained not only for the party's survival in Putrajaya, but to also ensure that the policies being introduced were sustainable for the good of the people.

PKR treasurer William Leong Jee Keen said the party was facing a totally different landscape since its founding days.

"Many things have changed since then. We want to be a government who implements lasting policies for the country.

"We also need to convince those who support us and those who don't, about our efforts for reform and what we are doing to achieve our goals and realise our visions.

"More importantly, we need to reinforce the belief among our grassroots and educate them that PKR now is part of a unity government which must be strengthened," he told the New Sunday Times.

Leong added that its lineup of leaders had "many young people" in the mix.

"We give them room for them to showcase their ideas and abilities."

The party's communications director Lee Chean Chung, meanwhile, said PKR had to balance the different forces within the unity government.

The Petaling Jaya MP agreed that the party needed to play a more aggressive role in advancing its progressive agenda.

"In the next 25 years, we want to make multicultural Malaysia an asset that we are all proud of, and a norm that we all embrace in our daily life," he said.

Undoubtedly, PKR's footing in the country's political scene is firm and deep-rooted.

Its strength lies in its multiracial platform, but in facing current challenges and in the wake of the sensitivities of race and religion, PKR must continue to assume the pivotal role of a mediator ensuring harmony and balance amidst differing perspectives and interests.

And as it progresses for the next 25 years to come, PKR must also prioritise the implementation of a strong and robust succession plan, to ensure its sustained vitality.

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