PKR thrives despite defectors, doomsayers

GEORGE TOWN: PKR is probably the fastest growing political party in the country, with thousands of new members signing up every month.

The membership has exceeded half a million, according to the party’s secretary-general, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

He said the party had been recruiting an average of 10,000 members every month since the last general election.

Saifuddin’s revelation may be surprising to those who follow the news. PKR has in recent months been hit with a spate of defections even as its traditional enemy, Umno, intensifies its campaign to smear its name and the reputation of its founder and supreme leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Saifuddin said he would disclose the full list of members at the PKR national congress that begins on Thursday in Kota Bahru.

He said most of the new members were professionals below the age of 40 and they came from both rural and urban areas.

“Make no mistake,” he said. “PKR is a serious player in the political landscape, and it is platform on which to groom the next generation of national leaders.”

Referring to the recent defectors, many of whom were prominent members of the party, he said: “The party wishes them all the best, but they might live to regret their decision. PKR is consolidating and learning from its mistakes.”

He said PKR would use the coming congress to strengthen its organisation structure, initiate preparations for the next general election and consider ways to strengthen its bonds with the PAS and DAP, the other two parties in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

"We will also discuss the performances of states under Pakatan control," he said, referring to Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Kelantan.

Offensive campaign against BN

Two thousand delegates from the party’s 206 divisions will attend the congress. Anwar is scheduled to be present from Friday to Sunday to monitor the proceedings.

Saifuddin said the delegates would also discuss strategies to counter-attack Barisan Nasional.

"We plan to go on an offensive campaign until the next election is called,” he said. “We will highlight wastage and corruption, including the Putrajaya’s recent decision to legalise sports betting."

PKR is bracing for a snap election. It expects it in the middle of next year, having read the signs in the Federal Government’s announcement of double-digit economic growth and its plan to scrap subsidies.

DAP will send its advisor Lim Kit Siang and secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to the congress. PAS will be represented by its secretary-general, Mustafa Ali. PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang is away in Turkey.

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