The opposition coalition has to make some important decisions about leadership, especially in the run-up to the general election.
PAKATAN Harapan is amazingly creative in creating job titles. Chairman, president and ketua umum have been floated as potential titles for their top posts, all aimed at ensuring one person is above everybody else without putting any of their big shots below the president.
The person is Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Despite being in prison, his letters and whispers still dictate how PKR decides.
I cannot imagine how they will run a country. Every time a difficult question comes up in a Cabinet meeting, would they call for a coffee break while waiting for the postman to arrive?
They don’t seem to realise that, being in prison, Anwar’s own thought process would be easily influenced by what is conveyed to him and how the person visiting him explains it to him. The letters that he writes cannot possibly be based on a holistic consideration of all options and consequences.
Anwar’s camp in PKR says that if they win, they would ensure Anwar gets a royal pardon so that he becomes prime minister.
This is an extraordinary suggestion because the power to pardon belongs to our Rulers. No politicians in their rightful mind would ever assume that they could muscle over our Rulers, giving instructions just like that.
Luckily, over the weekend, Anwar declared he is not offering himself to be the prime minister candidate any more. This is a welcome development because even those who do not support Pakatan are growing tired of their drama.
The stumbling block in Pakatan is PKR, because they are severely divided about Anwar’s future role, and Anwar’s camp in PKR feels insecure. However, Anwar’s latest announcement should allow PKR to move on.
Anwar’s camp in PKR must take the announcement as a call to stop naming him as the potential prime minister.
Although Anwar was vague when saying he is “not offering” himself, they should not persuade him to change his mind, or plan for an interim prime minister who will pass the seat to Anwar later.
This should be made a definitive closure. Otherwise, that statement was nothing but a deception.
I also urge Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to follow suit. But he should do more than Anwar.
He should declare that he, too, is not interested in becoming prime minister again, and he will also not contest in GE14.
That would assuage Anwar’s camp and other critics in Pakatan.
Pakatan must actively consider naming someone from their younger generation as prime minister. Wan Azizah has said she does not feel she is the best person for the post.
She is right. She is not. There are others who could do the job better. She should recuse herself too, and this will prevent allegations that Anwar is prime minister candidate by proxy.
Instead, Pakatan should name someone younger. This could be a game changer because others will immediately be under pressure to consider a different new line-up too. But the person should be from PKR, because Anwar’s camp will never accept PKR losing the prime minister candidacy.
I have never had the chance to talk to Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali personally, so my judgment may well be wrong here. But from afar, he seems to be the most obvious candidate from PKR.
Despite all the ruckus between PAS and all the Pakatan parties, he has proven that he can hold the coalition together in Selangor.
Considering all the odds, this is no easy feat. Even Dr Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin could not persuade PAS to remain in Pakatan. And he is also one of the very few with administrative experience.
Adding names likes Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Nurul Izzah Anwar and Salahuddin Ayob to the top line-up would make the election even more exciting.
Anwar, however, did not name a successor. This will likely encourage Anwar’s camp in PKR to work harder to block Azmin, because they have never fully trusted him.
Anwar himself is partly to blame here. He should have endorsed a credible successor. Otherwise, Anwar and his camp in PKR remain the biggest stumbling block for Pakatan’s stability.
Pakatan should treat the issue of coalition leadership as separate from the prime minister candidate. I cannot imagine Wan Azizah being an effective chairman in a meeting attended by Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin.
These two figures are far more experienced than she. Yes, she has sacrificed a lot for Pakatan’s struggle. But now is the time for her and her family to make the most meaningful sacrifice for the cause, which is to give PKR and Pakatan the freedom to flourish.
Pakatan needs a chairman who can facilitate decision-making without having to wait for notes from Sungai Buloh prison.
Dr Mahathir is the best person for that. After two decades of chairing Barisan Nasional, is there anyone more experienced than Dr Mahathir in chairing a coalition of political parties?
But if Dr Mahathir becomes chairman, it is only logical that Muhyiddin could not become president because that would be domination by one party.
Muhyiddin’s expertise is in strategising for elections. He has led Umno and Barisan Nasional to victory in so many successful general elections and by-elections. He is more valuable to Pakatan if he leads their electioneering machinery, regardless of the title given to him.
Since their target is to defeat Umno, there really is no one in Pakatan more knowledgeable than Muhyiddin about Umno’s strategies and tactics.
It does not matter which party you or I support. It is tiring to watch the indecision of Anwar’s camp in PKR. It has become too much and has continued for too long.
Since Anwar has opened the door, for goodness sake, PKR, please move on.
Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.