PETALING JAYA: The impasse over Pakatan Harapan’s choice for the premiership between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has raised questions as to whether it could lead to the eventual demise of the coalition.
However, some political analysts are saying the disputing Pakatan component parties – DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara – would eventually come to their senses and make a more rational decision over the premiership issue, which has been a sensitive topic since the coalition was formed in 2015.
Dr Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said despite open fire over the issue, it would not lead to fractured relationships between Pakatan leaders.
However, he conceded that this issue would see an erosion of support for “Pakatan Plus” from MPs from the other side of the political divide as well as Malaysian voters in the event of a snap election.
He also said the five MPs under Dr Mahathir and nine MPs from Parti Warisan Sabah were unlikely to support Anwar’s candidacy as prime minister.
“Anwar is simply not palatable to many in the conservative camps, whereas Dr Mahathir could at least be acceptable to a small percentage. They (Dr Mahathir and Warisan) know that such a coalition would be doomed from day one, so there is no point joining.”
Pakatan Harapan Plus refers to the loose coalition comprising Pakatan parties (PKR, DAP and Amanah), Warisan and MPs led by Dr Mahathir.
Oh said the onus was now on Anwar, whether he was willing to subsume his ambition for the greater good of Pakatan Plus.
“He must be realistic of his own chances, which are minuscule. I think Anwar will come to his senses after the initial tantrums. They see there is no chance with him leading, ” he said.
Even with the support of nine MPs from Warisan, Oh pointed out that Anwar only has the support of 105 MPs, adding that with Dr Mahathir, the chances of pinching MPs from Umno and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia are much higher.
“Dr Mahathir, with his long-standing relationship with Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, stands a much higher chance of pinching Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), ” he said, pointing out that the Sarawak coalition boasted 18 MPs.
Universiti Malaya’s Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, who described the impasse as a “storm in a teacup”, said that DAP and Amanah would eventually come to their senses that PKR was a much more trusted ally, given their history of political cooperation.
He said if Pakatan decides to go ahead with backing Dr Mahathir as prime minister, it could lead to protest votes by Chinese supporters in the coming general election, which could see Pakatan being defeated in the ballot box.
“Many cannot accept that Dr Mahathir, without a party, still wants to be prime minister again. There is no prime minister without a party in the history of Malaysia, ” he said.
Awang Azman pointed out that it was Warisan and Dr Mahathir who needed Pakatan more for their political survival.
He also said Pakatan leaders must be level-headed in addressing this issue, otherwise they could be seen as subservient to Dr Mahathir simply because they were too desperate to return to Putrajaya.
He said its leaders must look at this political cooperation as a long-term relationship, rather than a short-term one, as it would leave a huge impact on the national political landscape as well as the future of Pakatan itself.
Meanwhile, political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said Pakatan leaders must show that they were united in deciding its choice for premier.
“If the exchange of trust deficit continues, one may quit Pakatan or form a different coalition. It also depends on the level of communication among themselves, ” he said.
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