Kuek Ser Kuang Keng
Following the departure of more than a dozen representatives and leaders from PKR, the party has tightened its selection criteria for candidates ahead of the Sawarak polls, to filter out potential ‘frogs’.
Deputy president Azmin Ali (below left), who is also the party’s election director, said Sawarak PKR has submitted a preliminary list of candidates to the top leadership.
“We went through it last week but still need to review it. We will go through a screening process to make sure we do not experience the lompat (jumping ship) problem again,” he said when contacted yesterday.
Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, who is now screening the list, told Malaysiakini that there is no ‘black and white’ mechanism to judge the loyalty of potential candidates.
“We need to go deeper to personal knowledge of the person, background and past history, track record, inclination and association of the person, as well as commitment to the party.”
Baru (right) pointed out that a crucial indicator is the potential candidate’s degree of economic dependency on the government and politically well-connected companies.
“Some people would be weakened or come under pressure because of business associations with the government,” he explained.
“You need to be personally aware and informed (about the potential candidate). Having said that, you still cannot be very certain but can only minimise the possibility of defections.”
Asked if it will be made mandatory for all assemblypersons to sign an undated resignation letter – to be triggered in the event of a defection – Baru said this will not be effective, as the legality of such documents can be challenged in court.
For instance, the federal court had dismissed the undated resignation letters pre-signed by the three Perak Pakatan Rakyat representatives who turned ‘BN-friendly’ Independents, resulting in the BN taking back the state government.
Sawarak PKR is therefore mulling another preventive measure – to get all candidates to sign a legal contract with the party that requires their loyalty throughout their term, failing which they will have to pay huge compensation to the party.
“Maybe that is a better way, but that idea is yet to be decided,” said Baru.
He stressed that such preventive measurements are just secondary steps, and that “the most important is still the screening process”.
MCLM pact with Snap
In view of the defections, the newly-formed NGO Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) is scouting for ‘credible’ candidates to contest under Pakatan Rakyat parties, including in Sarawak.
But PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli today said the MCLM candidates will have to join PKR and commit to the party’s struggle if they want to contest on its ticket.
Baru, meanwhile, said the MCLM has not approached him to discuss the candidacy issue.
“I have not heard anything from them. So it is a non-issue.”
MCLM has formed a strategic link with opposition party Sarawak Nasional Party (Snap) which has joined Pakatan. However, details of the pact have yet to be announced.
The cooperation between MCLM and Snap has sparked speculation that MCLM may field its candidates under the Snap banner if it cannot reach agreement with PKR. This would strengthen Snap’s bargaining position in negotiating the seat allocation with PKR.
Snap has declared that it plans to contest in 28 Dayak-majority seats in the state polls. The date has not been announced, but the election must be conducted by July.