PKR split over vote to oust Najib, says party source

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(Oct 19): PKR lawmaker Hee Loy Sian may have succeeded in getting Parliament to accept a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, but his party remains split about supporting the unprecedented move.

A party source said that one group in PKR believes Najib should be removed immediately, while another group wants him to serve out his term.

The split in the PKR ranks comes in spite of opposition MPs openly calling for Najib's removal through Parliament for the past three months.

"One group believes that the longer Najib stays as prime minister, the worse it will be for Malaysia and he should be removed quickly," the source told The Malaysian Insider on condition of anonymity.

"The other group believes that Najib should stay until the 14th general election, because it will make things easier for the opposition to win Putrajaya."

The source said the two groups also disagreed over whether they should work with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to unseat Najib.

"Dr Mahathir is the most vocal in calling for parliamentarians to remove Najib through a no-confidence vote. Some PKR leaders think this effort should not be supported," said the source.

"The other group thinks that cooperating with Dr Mahathir is the best option right now in order to get rid of Najib."

Last  Friday, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli admitted that getting the no-confidence motion through Parliament will be "difficult".

The motion, proposed by Hee, was listed as the 25th item on Parliament's order paper, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman has said government matters will be given priority over private members' motions.

PKR vice-president N. Surendran played down the division within his party and instead said he believed Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers would join the opposition in voting against Najib in the Dewan Rakyat.

"We believe it can be done and that BN parliamentarians will put the country's interests first.

"That's the issue. We are not concerned about the number of opposition lawmakers," the Padang Serai MP told The Malaysian Insider.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, while not wanting to be drawn on the division in the party over the motion, said unseating Najib and saving Malaysia hinged on the courage of the Dewan Rakyat speaker.

"The first prerequisite involves gaining the approval from the speaker, since Parliament prioritises executive matters.

"Second, even if it is approved, it would require courage from government lawmakers to vote in favour of it, after it is debated in the Dewan Rakyat," said the Lembah Pantai MP.

But she added that the public must "wait and see" whether all opposition MPs would support the vote of no confidence.

The current split over ousting Najib comes weeks after PKR was reported to be at loggerheads over the launch of Pakatan Harapan.

Surendran, however, said that issue had already been resolved, and the party now fully backed its president, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

He said all PKR leaders would support the motion of no confidence, and insisted the party was united.

"That has nothing to do with it, that was just us asking for the PKR Supreme Council meeting to be held. There is no split in PKR.

"We are united behind the president. That discussion had nothing to do with the no-confidence vote." – The Malaysian Insider