Three Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leaders have defended Datuk Zaid Ibrahim's right to speak up, a day after he was reprimanded for his views on the party leadership structure.
The former cabinet minister, contesting the No. 2 post in the party's elections starting later this month, has argued that de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should not be above the elected presidency.
Zaid, up against vice-president Mohamed Azmin Ali for the deputy president's post, said Anwar should rightly contest the top post.
An MP, in leaping to Zaid's defence, questioned why vice-president Dr Lee Boon Chye issued a statement reprimanding Zaid on Thursday.
The statement came after a political bureau meeting on Wednesday and Dr Lee started it with these words: "Keadilan views with bewilderment Zaid Ibrahim's recent incessant complaints to the press about the party and the ongoing party elections."
Padang Serai MP N. Gobalakrishnan, who is going for a vice-president's post, said this was not the first "anti-Zaid" statement.
"Strangely all these leaders spoke to the media about this.
"Why is Dr Lee now criticising Zaid for giving interviews to the media? It is quite clear that Zaid is being continuously marginalised in the party.
"The various incidents during PKR cabang (divisional) elections around the country in the past two weeks will show that the 'anti-Zaid' sentiment is being put in place by someone high-up in the party.
"The question is who is responsible for this? Judging by the statements coming out from our very own leaders, including the Ketua Umum (Anwar) who warned of Trojan horses in the party, I can only conclude that these people are all in one group -- the group which wants Azmin to defeat Zaid for the deputy's post.
"Am I wrong in making this assumption?
" Based on what's happening in the party, I don't think so.
"I am starting to believe the stories about the Azmin cartel now."
Another vice-president Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan said Dr Lee should not have issued the statement.
Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam too urged other senior party leaders such as Dr Lee to stop issuing statements to attack other contenders, including Zaid.
He was troubled by the ruckus and voting manipulation at the PKR divisional elections claiming it had been hijacked by certain people.
As the tussle for posts in PKR assumed -- at times -- the tone of infighting, the No 2 contest saw the entry of a third candidate yesterday in Mustafa Kamil Ayub.
"After 12 years in the PKR and on top of my 15 years in Umno, political maturity is not a question for me," Mustafa said at a press conference.
Critics, including PKR members, have also highlighted the risk of PKR going against its words of fighting corruption, cronyism and nepotism when Nurul Izzah Anwar announced her candidacy for the vice-president.
Nurul Izzah is the daughter of Anwar and party president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.