Musical chairs in Pakatan's politics


  • The Bitter Truth
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2020

THERE seems to be no end to the political drama within the Pakatan Harapan ruling coalition, with this weekend gearing up to be another explosive affair for component party PKR.

Saturday’s central committee meeting will decide the fate its Women’s wing chief Zuraida Kamaruddin, who has fallen out with party leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The senior leader in deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s camp is facing the sack from the party for public statements she made, which included revealing private conversations she had with Anwar over the identity of a man in a sex video.

If she is indeed sacked, there may be a vacancy in the Cabinet as Zuraida may be pressured into giving up her Housing and Local Government Ministry portfolio.

Zuraida, it is said, is considering the possibility of joining Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, whose chairman currently is Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

However, her joining that party will weigh heavily on Bersatu Women’s chief Datuk Seri Rina Harun. It is obvious that a firebrand like Zuraida will pose a political threat to Rina, whom many consider a political lightweight still.

But while the ministerial portfolio is held by PKR, what would prevent Dr Mahathir from retaining Zuraida in her ministry, citing his prerogative as Prime Minister? After all Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail does not hold any party position in PKR.

Meanwhile, it is understood that popular Lembah Pantai MP and PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil is among those looked at as being able to replace Zuraida.

An Anwar loyalist, he also represents the young blood needed in Cabinet for a more significant representation of Malaysian youth.

Fahmi, at 38, has at least held down a full-time job and understands the struggles of raising a family.

An even match would be Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, also 38, who is MP for another federal seat, Setiawangsa.

When he was a state assemblyman, he had mooted the Mentari Project to promote learning for severely disadvantaged children in low-cost housing schemes.

It is understood that the powers that be are considering a swap between Amanah and PKR for the Federal Territories Ministry portfolio. Seeing that Fahmi has been championing affordable housing, sustainable urban development and addressing urban poverty, especially among the B40 group, it is not farfetched to say he is an obvious choice for the job, from PKR’s perspective.

The current Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad is the MP for Shah Alam, and is also communications director for Parti Amanah Negara.

Both portfolios offer a sizeable platform to expand political influence and growth as they deal with bread-and-butter issues and put their ministers directly in touch with the electorate. Let us not forget the generous allocations and funding that come with these ministries.

These are some of the options PKR may put forward to the leadership – unless of course Dr Mahathir feels he can take on the role of acting Housing and Local Government Minister, on top of the Education Ministry which he assumed following the departure of Dr Maszlee Malik.

I, for one, am eager to see if my fellow Kelantanese Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad will be named the new Education Minister in the coming weeks, although this is complicated by his recent appointment as chairman of the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit (Teraju).

I witnessed his commitment to education, where my father conducted his weekend tutorial programmes for rural children in Mustapa’s constituency of Jeli. The programme was funded by Mustapa himself.

He would be an obvious choice to pick up the No Child Left Behind policy left by Maszlee. And unlike Maszlee, Mustapa does not harbour high political ambitions, where he would use his ministry to prop himself up politically, at the expense of our children’s education.

In any case, there does not seem to be any letup in the dramatics of Pakatan, which started the year with Maszlee’s resignation and continues with the debate over the succession plan, where Dr Mahatir threw the gauntlet to his coalition partners to tell him to leave if they want him to.

Would they dare? The wily 94-year-old knows better, but perhaps it is time to call his bluff?

Award-winning journalist Terence Fernandez is a communications and reputation management specialist.


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Terence Fernandez

Terence Fernandez

Terence Fernandez is an award-winning journalist and communications consultant.

   

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