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Monday, May 30, 2022

Possibly, a last chance for Anwar to be PM


The realities are quite clear for Pakatan Harapan and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. And more so as the days and weeks pass and inch closer to the long-awaited 15th general election (GE15).

One, it is an uphill task for Harapan to win the election. Two, Anwar’s long-cherished dream of becoming prime minister is as good as over.

Harapan diehards and Anwaristas may not believe it, possibly because they fear staring at defeat right in the eye or some may just find it impossible to accept the loss of power.

I like to believe that the rest of us, the “non-politikus”, know better. Say, give and take a 10 percent error margin.

(Non-politikus, in this context, means “non-career politicians depending on politics for a living and the non-sycophants/freeloaders hanging around politicians, buttering them up”)

Many have suggested that Anwar should step down and call it a day.

Analysts had pointed out as far back as two years ago that with Anwar at the helm of Harapan, the opposition coalition will not make it, not in GE15.

Even Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, was not confident of a Harapan victory, predicting that the coalition will lose two more general elections.

However, she later apologised for her less than positive remarks. An unnecessary apology, in my view.

‘You cannot win’

Retired ambassador Dennis Ignatius was the latest to appeal to Anwar to let go. In an open letter to the opposition leader on May 24, the respected diplomat wrote: “We need a new paradigm, new leaders with a new vision that will irrevocably alter the political dynamics. Regrettably, this kind of change can’t happen with you as leader of the opposition. Your time is past”.

Ignatius continues to put it up straight to Anwar: “Like it or not, you are not the one to lead us into GE15. You cannot win. You cannot inspire the voters to turn out in sufficient numbers to stymie Umno’s march to Putrajaya.

“If you stay, the change that you yourself fought so hard for, paid such a high price for, will recede further and further into the background.”

Dennis Ignatius

No one can deny that Ignatius meant well. So do many others who spoke before him.

I do not intend to add salt to the wound. But in many ways, I have to agree with Ignatius. His views clearly reflect the general public opinion out there today.

However, I would not join the bandwagon and request for Anwar’s departure just like that without offering a solution, a way out.

Let me throw out this idea. Maybe, just maybe, this could be the last chance for Anwar to become prime minister.

First things first, for Anwar to be PM, Harapan must win the GE15. The electoral victory must be achieved first.

What/who is the main obstacle to a Harapan victory? It is generally perceived to be Anwar. So Anwar must step down as Harapan and the opposition leader, meaning he will not be leading the opposition coalition into GE15.

We know that Anwar desires to be prime minister… and badly. That being the case, the man has to put aside his ego and listen to the voices of reason, most of whom must surely be outside of his inner circle.

Anwar should know. He has been doing it his way or listening to the same people for the past 20 years and still, he is nowhere near to becoming PM.

Time to make a clean break from your usual panel of advisers and go for the real thing for once.

Anwar can remain PM candidate

This is my proposal to Anwar. Step down as opposition and Harapan leader. Let the Harapan presidential council choose a new leader to lead the coalition into GE15.

Three names are possible. Former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli who has just won the PKR deputy president’s post, Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah, or even Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.

DAP’s Anthony Loke has to be ruled out because like it or not, we need a Malay leader here.

Rafizi Ramli (left) and Nurul Izzah Anwar

Let one of them be the Harapan leader, just to lead the coalition into the election. The voters’ demands must be met. They do not want Anwar; they want a new Harapan leader. Give them one.

Even when presenting a new Harapan supreme leader, there is no necessity to declare that the candidate will be prime minister should Harapan win GE15. Leave that open.

The decision behind closed doors is more important. Let there be a tacit understanding that Anwar will be Harapan’s PM candidate in the event of a Harapan victory. I’m sure that could be easily arranged and agreed upon by the presidential council.

I think there is something most of the opposition supporters can agree to. Assuming Harapan is victorious, I doubt many will object to Anwar becoming prime minister.

What many are dead set against is Anwar leading the Harapan coalition into battle. It’s a battle they know is unwinnable because it is very difficult to sell Anwar to the voters. That is a fact! Better swallow it.

So, here we are. In a nutshell, the plan is for Anwar to step down as Harapan and opposition leader but still be the coalition’s candidate for PM.

For me, that could possibly be Anwar’s final opportunity to clinch the coveted post that has eluded him for the past 20 years.

Does anyone have a better plan?

If this is not set in motion, the other likely scenario is this after GE15 - BN/Umno will win, possibly not with a two-thirds majority. DAP will emerge as the biggest opposition party. All will be back to square one, pre GE14. 

Prove me wrong, someone. - Mkini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is a veteran Sarawak editor and heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS). He can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

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