It is now an open secret that Pakatan Harapan is split on the choice of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the candidate for prime minister.
ICICLES are forming again between Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the great thaw in their relationship last year.
It is an open secret by now that Anwar is not sold on the idea of another round of Dr Mahathir at the top.
He has issued what some in his party call the Amanat Anwar or Anwar’s mandate for his party to seek a prime minister candidate who is more reflective of the changing times.
The imprisoned PKR leader is standing in the way of Dr Mahathir’s bid to be anointed Pakatan Harapan’s prime minister candidate.
The tables have turned – he is now blocking the man who had blocked him from claiming the top post.
“Anwar is not being personal or out for revenge. He does not believe that Mahathir represents our reform agenda,” said a PKR leader.
Anwar is said to be unimpressed by Dr Mahathir’s promise of judicial reform, fighting corruption, rule of law and press freedom.
In a rather cryptic press statement issued on the day that the Pakatan presidential council met to discuss issues including the prime minister candidate, he urged the coalition to “heed the people’s voice”.
He did not touch on the disagreement over the prime minister post, but there were two giveaway points in his brief statement – he called on Pakatan to respect the spirit of consensus as well as to consult NGOs and activists on key issues.
He was telling the coalition that the decision on the prime minister candidate has to be by consensus, that is, all four parties must agree rather than put the matter to a vote.
He knew that if the issue was put to a vote, PKR would be outnumbered by DAP, Parti Pribumi and Amanah who want Dr Mahathir as the prime minister candidate.
Insiders said that his advice to Pakatan to consult the NGOs and activist was aimed directly at Dr Mahathir.
Two leading women NGO leaders had met the Pakatan chairman last week to share their views.
They had apparently told the 92-year-old leader that they will boycott Pakatan in the general election if the coalition cannot agree on a more suitable prime minister candidate.
The voices of dissent regarding Dr Mahathir’s candidature are growing louder with some Pakatan politicians and even analysts suggesting that he carries too much baggage and will not be well-accepted by the voters.
A poster depicting the Pakatan Cabinet featuring Datuk Seri Azmin Ali as the prime minister has also gone viral the last couple of days.
The Cabinet line-up with the tagline “Muda, Dinamik, Wibawa” (young, dynamic, integrity) began circulating on Thursday, just as the Pakatan’s presidential council was preparing to meet.
It was clearly a counter-campaign against Dr Mahathir’s bid to be named for the top job.
It also seemed like the handiwork of PKR supporters given that PKR leaders dominated 12 of the 27 posts, with Parti Pribumi deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir as the deputy prime minister.
For years, Anwar stood in the way of his protege Azmin but it is said that he has finally come around to the idea that the Selangor mentri besar is ready for bigger responsibilities.
The sentiments are not favourable to Dr Mahathir and the wish-washy press conference that was held after the presidential council meeting spoke volumes.
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah and her deputy Azmin had attended the meeting but Azmin left midway for another appointment while Dr Wan Azizah did not join the media conference.
Dr Mahathir sort of beat around the bush during the press conference and reporters came away unclear on whether the prime minister candidate would be announced at the Pakatan convention tomorrow or whether it would only be revealed before the general election.
It was obvious that the coalition could not reach a consensus on the choice of prime minister.
Pakatan is not short of capable leaders and it is puzzling why they are clinging to a man whose time has passed.
PKR leaders were also upset with Dr Mahathir’s attacks on PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang. They felt that he was starting fires which other people had to put out.
His criticism of the role of the mufti in connection with the Memali tragedy in Kedah also upset Azmin who let go a pair of tweets chastising “an individual who insults and runs down the mufti” in the name of politics.
Some claimed that Azmin was criticising his younger brother Azwan but the PKR leader told people that the tweets were aimed solely at Dr Mahathir.
The question now is whether Pakatan leaders can find a compromise before the Pakatan convention.
Those in the pro-Mahathir camp say that by hook or by crook they will have to name someone at the convention. But can they push through their agenda without PKR coming along?
Pakatan leaders thought Dr Mahathir would be their trump card in the general election. Instead he has become a problematic and divisive figure in their coalition.