KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) leaders’ refusal to endorse the jailed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be prime minister is simple pragmatism, according to political analysts.
While there are legal gymnastics that make it possible for the PKR de facto leader to become prime minister in the event Pakatan Harapan wins federal power, they said the implausibility made it pointless to contemplate.
Anwar is serving the third year of his five-year sentence for sodomy. Without a royal pardon or an early release, he is just under eight years away from eligibility to stand for an election, which he must first win in order to be PM.
“In the current political situation, it is impossible for Anwar to be PM. PPBM knows this,” Universiti Utara Malaysia associate professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
At the PKR annual congress on Sunday, the party's leaders as well as some from Pakatan Harapan such as Lim Kit Siang and Mohamad Sabu held up placards saying “Anwar as the 7th PM”.
However, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia's Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin both refused to do so.
Although Dr Mahathir did not state his refusal, he had once been adamant that Anwar must never rise to the post.
Despite the two men's history, independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng believed the refusal to endorse Anwar was down to the PPBM leaders being realistic rather than any old animosity or pettiness.
Both he and Azizudin said Pakatan Harapan would likely present a more practical candidate to be prime minister once the general election is closer, although Khoo felt the more pressing issue was seat negotiations to avoid multi-cornered fights.
“It (Pakatan) is an electoral pact. As long as all parties can agree on taking on BN one on one it is okay,” he told Malay Mail Online today.
Oh Ei Sun, who was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s political secretary from 2009 to 2011 and currently a senior fellow at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said the refusal may be political expediency on PPBM’s part.
Oh also believed that the decision would ultimately not affect support for Pakatan Harapan, saying that its supporters were likely to vote for the pact regardless of who it puts up as its PM candidate.
“Most of those who vote for PH do so not so much out of their support for PH but their hatred toward BN/Umno,” he added.