PETALING JAYA: An academic has urged DAP and Amanah to stop promoting Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) prime minister candidate following his rejection of further cooperation with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.
“It is better for PH to side with Anwar and move on,” said Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
“PKR can provide a larger number of MPs than Mahathir, who only has the backing of four former PPBM MPs and Warisan MPs.”
Yesterday, in an interview with Sin Chew Daily, Mahathir rejected a suggestion by Anwar that he take up a senior minister’s or minister mentor’s post if PH regains the federal government.
He also said he would no longer work with Anwar since the Port Dickson MP did not want to work with him. He would find other ways to become prime minister, he added.
Previously, DAP and Amanah had told PKR to return to PH’s consensus to back Mahathir as prime minister, saying Anwar was not expected to achieve majority support in Parliament.
Their statement did not sit well with some quarters in PKR, with one leader from Selangor urging the party to ditch DAP and Amanah.
Azmi said the reality was that Mahathir needed Anwar as he had the support of more than 30 PKR MPs.
“Without Anwar in PH, it’s just impossible to have the numbers to oust the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government,” he added.
He said PH would not be a strong opposition without PKR and continued bickering in the coalition might provide Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin with the opportunity to consolidate his power base.
James Chin of University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said the decision of whether to ditch or continue to back Mahathir was a tricky matter for DAP and Amanah.
“If they abandon Mahathir and just focus on the 15th general election with PKR, it will give time for Muhyiddin to consolidate his government and build his coalition’s strength for the election.”
He warned that PN might try to woo Mahathir to its side if he was not PH’s candidate for prime minister.
“There is a possibility that Mahathir will move over to PN,” he said. “If that happens, it will be a big disaster for PH.”
But Chin said he believed PH would find a solution to its crisis because it knew that remaining divided would take away any chance of forming the government again or winning GE15.
Mohd Izani Mohd Zain of Universiti Putra Malaysia said it would be impossible for Mahathir to become prime minister again without Anwar’s support because of the number of seats PKR holds.
“Mahathir and Anwar need each other’s support,” he said, adding that PH should be preparing for GE15 instead of being mired in the power struggle between the two.