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Sunday, May 31, 2020

'Harapan++' thinks it's on the cusp, but Dr M vs Anwar still a sticking point

Malaysiakini

ANALYSIS | In 2018, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim buried the hatchet and succeeded in dethroning BN only to have their ties immediately strained over the subject of a transition date.
Even now, with both of them in the opposition, there is growing tension between their two camps as talk of another regime change gathers steam.
Prominent figures in both Mahathir and Anwar's inner circles have revealed to Malaysiakini that both statesmen are confident that Perikatan Nasional no longer has the numbers to govern and they are therefore scrambling to form a new coalition.
However, should "Pakatan Harapan++" form a new coalition, the key ingredient of Mahathir and Anwar's awkward relationship remains the same - who will emerge as primus inter pares (first among equals)?
Officially, Anwar is the leader of the Pakatan Harapan coalition. However, according to sources, the only solid support for Anwar as prime minister comes from his own party, PKR.
For instance, Amanah's Khalid Abdul Samad has publicly claimed that Harapan has already chosen a candidate for prime minister but did not name the person, inadvertently implying that Anwar was not Harapan's undisputed choice.
This, according to a PKR source close to its top leadership inner circle, did not go down well with Anwar.
Khalid Abdul Samad
"He (Anwar) had been very patient before this. But now, he believes it is his turn to lead Harapan's reform initiatives," said the source, referring to Harapan's agreement pre-GE14 for Mahathir to be the PM before transitioning power to Anwar.
According to sources, what Khalid said was in response to a meeting between Anwar and Muhyiddin during which the latter, according to some Harapan sources, may have asked the PKR president to join him in PN, the ruling coalition.
Anwar had yesterday confirmed that he had been offered both the PM's and deputy PM's posts if he were to join PN but said he has rejected them. He did not specify who made the offer.
"What he (Khalid) did at the press conference was understood to be what we call an 'insurance' [...] to signal to Anwar to refrain from forming any pact with Muhyiddin," said a source.
While Anwar has acknowledged rejecting PN's offer in its current configuration, it is understood that PN leaders have gone back to the drawing board to hatch new offers, such as a broad coalition that involves MPs from various parties but not those with "excess baggage".
Amanah and DAP sources told Malaysiakini that some of their MPs prefer Mahathir to Anwar because the latter's performance during the "Sheraton Move" had supposedly made them lose faith in his leadership.
"He kept saying he had the numbers. Then he backed Mahathir. In the end, both lost," said a DAP source.
Abdullah Sani
Another DAP figure told Malaysiakini that if Anwar and his supporters refused to form a government just because Mahathir is the prime minister candidate then "Pakatan Harapan++" would remain as the opposition.
"Refusing to form a government just because of Mahathir is tantamount to legitimising Muhyiddin's government. Anwar will be committing political suicide if he regards Mahathir as an enemy bigger than Muhyiddin and Azmin Ali," said the source.
Even if Anwar agrees to have Mahathir back at the helm, many MPs in PKR, such as Anwar loyalist Abdullah Sani, would balk at the idea.
"Mahathir has the numbers? From where would he get the numbers from? He only has five, and maybe if combined with Warisan, he would get 14.
"So, if he does not want to join us, he will only have that," Abdullah said, who believes Anwar has the numbers now though he did not reveal how many.
As for Mahathir's camp, supporters believe that the former premier has the support of between "129 and 137 MPs" from various parties including the ones currently in the PN government.
"GPS support is in the works. But GPS has already stated clearly that they will only support the government of the day so once we get a majority, we believe they will join, too," said a source. - Mkini

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