Don’t be a loser again, Anwar told

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst sees PKR president Anwar Ibrahim being at the losing end of an agreement to appoint Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister and himself as deputy prime minister should Pakatan Harapan (PH) form the government again.

Speaking to FMT, Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya said Anwar should learn from the recent past and not place too much trust in Mahathir’s willingness to hand over power to him.

He was commenting on an FMT report that PH is set to bring back Mahathir as its prime ministerial candidate, this time with Anwar as his deputy.

Sources told FMT this came about after several meetings of top PH leaders in the past week.

Azman said it would be hard for any observer of Malaysian politics to imagine Mahathir stepping down in any hurry.

He said Anwar would have nothing to lose if he were to decline the deputy prime minister’s post since it would be a great challenge to serve in the administration at a time of enormous economic challenges.

It would be better for him to focus on strengthening his party and filling the void left by former deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali and his supporters, he added.

“For now, he should focus on being a good opposition leader and get ready for the next general election by strengthening his grassroots support.”

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said he believed the agreement, if it had indeed come about, was geared more towards preparing for the next general election than towards an immediate change in Putrajaya since PH would still need the numbers.

He described such an accord as the best way forward for PH.

“Anwar has support among urban Malays while Mahathir has support among rural Malays,” he said.

But he also said its biggest challenge would be the “long history of shadow boxing” between Mahathir and Anwar.

“Even if they agree to it, I’m not sure their supporters will.”

He said the key to any arrangement would be getting the support of Sabah and Sarawak MPs, and he voiced doubt that Sarawak’s GPS, with its 18 MPs, would agree to back Mahathir as long as DAP remained in PH.

If PH were to get back into power, he said, it would likely have only a small majority, making it as unstable as Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Political scientist Chandra Muzaffar said there was no guarantee that PH would immediately replace PN even if it had the numbers or succeeded in ousting Muhyiddin Yassin through a no-confidence vote.

“If Muhyiddin does lose the vote of confidence, he will have to seek an audience with the king and I think His Majesty will dissolve Parliament as he has already spoken against dragging the country into political turmoil again,” he said.

Chandra also said he doubted that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would appoint Mahathir as prime minister again since he had refused to withdraw his resignation when the king asked him to.

“The political mess was started by Mahathir,” he said. “So I don’t believe they would just appoint him again.

“And I don’t believe that a 95-year-old Mahathir coming back as prime minister again for a third time has much support from the people.”

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