Wednesday, August 25, 2010

PKR Youth devoid of real leaders?

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

KUALA LUMPUR: There seems to be widespread discontent in PKR Youth, which many have described as "incompetent" and "uninspiring". Observers say the lack of capable and talented leaders has weakened the party's Youth wing as a potent force among its peers.

Current chief Syamsul Iskandar and his followers have been under intense pressure to perform and is under fire from all sides for their alleged inability to step up to the plate, while its counterpart in the Barisan Nasional (BN) has done fairly well to remain relevant among voters.

PKR Youth will be holding its election along with the national leadership polls by year-end. Some have expressed concerns that the candidates for the Youth's top posts may not be good enough to transform the movement's dismal image.

It is understood that three candidates will be mounting a challenge against Syamsul who will be defending his post at the upcoming party polls.

The two main contenders are Rafizi Ramli, the chief executive officer to Selangor's economic adviser, Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the party's de facto leader, and Youth executive council member Bardrul Hisham Shaharin.


The third contender is considered to be the dark horse in the race -- Hasmi Hashim, an aide to party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. He was defeated when he vied for the Youth chief post in the last party election.

Party insiders told FMT that Rafizi, a UK-trained engineer-turned-accountant, has the backing of top young leaders like newly minted party communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and Anwar's daughter and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah.

"He's talented and is definitely an asset but he does not command the support of the grassroots members. That's Rafizi's problem," a party official said, adding that this has ruled out his chances of taking over the Youth's helm.

'Street fighter' reputation

Badrul Hisham, or popularly known as "Chegubard", does command the respect of the Youth members but is not favoured among PKR's top leaders due to his "street fighter" reputation.

Badrul Hisham has been arrested several times for his street protest "antics" and it is understood that the central leadership is keen on distancing itself from him. Should he win, there will be a divisive gap between the party's Youth wing and the top leaders.

"The party appreciates his contribution but he has no other talent than street provocation. We don't need this kind of politics anymore. Party leaders are getting tired of it, so Chegubard is definitely out of the equation, " a party source said.

Party observers say the third contender, Hasmi, may also lack the needed quality to rejuvenate the wing but his chances may be strengthened by his recruiting ability.

It is also learnt that Hasmi has under him capable and talented followers whom the top leaders and party observers consider pivotal to forming PKR's third-tier leadership.

"These potential members are young who can preserve the movement's idealism,” another party official said. Youth members must be below 35.

Potential candidates aside, the fears still exist that PKR lacks an "all-rounder" and real capable leader to re-invigorate the shoddy Youth wing.

Much of the blame has been put on Shamsul who, party leaders say, has done little to expand the movement. In contrast, BN Youth has done much to recruit and widen its support base.


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