KUALA LUMPUR: Several Pakatan Harapan lawmakers are calling for a change in leadership following its crushing defeat in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election last Saturday (Nov 16).
Several of them have openly aired their views saying that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should shoulder the blame for the loss and call it quits.
Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim said Dr Mahathir should emulate David Cameron, who resigned as the UK Prime Minister in 2016, for failing to prevent the United Kingdom leaving the European Union (EU).
"Tanjung Piai is not an isolated by-election. It will have national implications. We respect Dr Mahathir, he plays his role and there was a smooth and peaceful transition to a new government.
“I think he (Dr Mahathir) understands the outcome of Tanjung Piai. It’s like Cameron, (who resigned following) Brexit, ” he said when met in Parliament on Monday (Nov 18).
The former Johor PKR chief also said that the power transition to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must take place as agreed although it was only expected to occur within two years.
“I personally think Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is not perfect, but I think he can (be the prime minister). He understands multiculturalism, multiracialism and the need for a Malaysian narrative," he added.
DAP’s Klang MP Charles Santiago said Pakatan's presidential council must decide on Dr Mahathir's fate.
"The loss in Tanjung Piai is not a just wake-up call for Pakatan as we have been saying that since the losses in the Semenyih and Cameron Highlands by-elections.
"It shows that Pakatan is in the ICU (intensive care unit) and things have to move," he said.
He said that while some were calling for Dr Mahathir's resignation, it is Pakatan's presidential council that should decide on whether he should continue to lead.
"The country is governed collectively by the policies of the presidential council.
"You just can't blame Dr Mahathir alone.
"You (the council) must take responsibility including if Dr Mahathir should be there," he added.
He cited several recent issues such as the proposed introduction of khat in the school syllabus, the use of draconian laws to arrest several individuals said to be linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and economic issues as reasons why Pakatan lost both Malay and Chinese votes.
He added that there must also be a Cabinet reshuffle or Pakatan would continue to lose more ground.
Kapar lawmaker Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid from PKR said that the Pakatan leadership is currently without any solid policies.
"I agree that he (Dr Mahathir) should take the blame.
"The people voted for leadership and the government nowadays doesn't have any policies for the future," he said.
Asked if that there may be a push for Dr Mahathir's removal, the outspoken lawmakers merely said: "Have to but I don't know."
On Sunday (Nov 17), in a Facebook post, PKR's Subang MP Wong Chen said much of the blame for the defeat fell on “Dr Mahathir's lap”.
Wong Chen agreed that Pakatan's defeat in Tanjung Piai was a sort of a referendum on Dr Mahathir’s leadership, a view held by some political commentators.
"So while you can blame the performance of some ministers, you can also blame some non-cooperative civil servants but as in all organisations, the CEO is mostly responsible.
"So the big chunk of the blame has to still land on Dr Mahathir's lap," he had said in his post.
He also cited the lack of a timeline for a handover by Dr Mahathir to Anwar a factor on why the economy was in a rut.
"Investors have money and intentions to invest but are holding back since there is no clear succession timeline," he said.
He said Dr Mahathir must come out with a new game plan or see Pakatan at risk of being led to more defeats.
Did you find this article insightful?