PKR will amend its constitution at a special congress to be held in Kajang on Saturday to enshrine democratic populism, presidential term limits, greater gender parity, and faster maturation of young leaders.
MCPX“All in all,” said vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah, chairman of the constitutional amendments committee, in an interview with Malaysiakini, “the thrust of the amendments is to facilitate members’ direct participation in the process of electing the leadership of the party.” This democratic populism will begin with a change in semantics: no longer will quasi-feudal terms be used to denote party structures so that a branch (formerly ‘cawangan’) will be called ‘ranting’, a division (previously ‘bahagian’) will be termed ‘cabang’, and the supreme council (‘majlis tertinggi’) will replaced by central executive council.
“In other words, we are opting for coinages that reflect our egalitarian ethos,” explained lawyer Sivarasa, a prominent member of the PKR and, by extension, the Pakatan Rakyat legal team tasked with litigating the many cases involving the opposition in the courts.
Egalitarian terminology paves the way for direct participation of each branch member in the election by secret ballot of leaders at the divisional level and the election by every divisional leader of the national leadership. “Thus we become the only party in the country that will elect its divisional leadership directly by branch members and will elect the national leadership by every member of the divisional leadership,” said Sivarasa. The current practice in most political parties in the country is for branches to elect delegates who will then elect the leadership of the divisions. The latter will nominate delegates to the general assembly of the party which will elect the national leadership of the party and its supreme council.
“The changes to the process of electing the divisional leadership, and from that point the national leadership, allow for more democratic participation in choosing leaders to helm PKR,” explained Sivarasa.
30 percent of post reserved for women
Term limits are meant only for the president who can hold the post for three consecutive three-year terms. The MCA are the only political party in the country with a similar limit on the presidential term of office.
Also, to reflect the growth in the size of the party’s membership and its spread over almost the entire Malaysian nation, the present five vice-presidential slots – three elected and two appointed – will be increased to seven – four elected and three appointed.
Presently, PKR has a membership of nearly half of million. To recognise the contributions of women and to boost gender parity, 30 percent of all posts in the party, from branch to national leadership, are reserved for women. This will not affect the women’s wing of the party which will continue to be operated and helmed by women.
“One must see the party which was set up a decade ago as a work in progress such that the allocation of thirty percent of the posts to women as a measure to encourage women’s participation and boost the growth of women leaders,” Sivarasa asserted.
To boost the youth wing, the party will reduce the upper limit of eligibility to 35 years of age from the present 40, to “conform to the international convention on the definition on youth”, said Sivarasa.
He said the changes overall were to help streamline the administrative and disciplinary procedures of the party so that it can function as an effective and transparent political entity.