PKR today approved amendments to its constitution that among others incorporated equal treatment of Sabah and Sarawak as part of the "purpose of struggle".

It read: "To be faithful to the spirit of fair cooperation and power sharing between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia by strengthening the just political and economic position based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963".

Earlier in her speech, PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said this was to follow up with its pledge to incorporate the Kuching declaration made last year, which promised autonomy to the two East Malaysia states.

"PKR is firm in its stance of wanting autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak and to ensure fair distribution of national wealth to all states," she said during the party's special congress today to address the amendments to the constitution.

Additionally, one of three of PKR's appointed vice presidents must be from Sabah or Sarawak while the permanent chairperson of Sabah and Sarawak PKR will also automatically given a spot on the party's political bureau.
Empowering grassroots
The amendments also saw a series of changes that will allow party organisation at the grassroots level a bigger say.

They include allowing the state leadership to determine state political appointments such as local councilors and village chiefs. Previously, the state leadership could only propose candidates.

However, even though the appointment process is decentralised, the central decision making body still retains the right to veto the state's decision.
Other amendments include:
  • Deputy president automatically takes over as president if the position becomes vacate
  • PKR Youth and Wanita can now make their own rules subject to central's approval
  • Greater representation of delegates from PKR Youth and Wanita to the party's national congress
  • MPs and state assemblypersons are automatically made a delegate at the party's national congress
  • Formation of a national organising secretary position at the central level and similar positions at the state and branch levels
  • Powers of branch committees to sack its members through no confidence vote revoked as members are now elected through direct vote
  • The party's disciplinary board is empowered to conduct investigations even though no complaint is filed
There are, however, two amendments to the PKR constitution that is bound to raise eyebrows.

The first is a new provision that bars party members from taking internal disputes to courts. Doing so will result in immediate expulsion.

The other amendment empowers the party president to shorten the notice to call for a national congress at his or her discretion. 

The standard period of notice is 14 days and this period is essential for competing groups to prepare and rally support when there is internal strife in a party.

The amendments to the constitution was unanimously approved through a show of hands from 885 delegates. A quorum was 688 delegates was necessary for the special congress to convene.

Youth wing age limit stays

An additional motion was also tabled at the congress over whether to increase the age limit of the PKR Youth leadership from 35 years old to 40 years old.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution tabled the motion for a vote despite the proposal having already been dismissed by the party's political bureau after delegates voiced disagreement.

"There have been complaints from the grassroots that there are not enough young leaders to take over the youth leadership, we need a transition period," pitched outgoing PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar, who is now 39-years-old.

However, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali later took the podium to argue against the proposal.

"The arguments are valid but it is the central leadership's duty to project a message that the party is not only led by old leaders but also welcome younger leaders.

"We don't want to be like Umno where leaders stay on forever," he said.

The motion was finally defeated by majority show of hands with almost the entire leadership lineup also raising their hands in opposition to the change.

~ Malaysiakini