SHAH ALAM, Aug 11 — When Pakatan Harapan (PH) component parties agreed on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as its prime minister-designate, it was on the condition that the PKR president will swing a simple parliamentary majority within a certain timeframe, Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Samad said.
He said his party agreed to back Anwar on the basis that the latter can enable PH’s return to Putrajaya without going through the polls.
“Amanah will support any candidate who can draw the additional MPs,” the Shah Alam MP told Malay Mail in an interview at his service centre here last week.
“At the moment Anwar had said he could,” he added.
Khalid stopped short of detailing the timeline, but said the PH presidential council decided to give Anwar an opportunity to muster enough MPs for a crossover.
Amanah and DAP initially backed a plan that would have made two-time prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad PH’s temporary prime minister-designate, on the assumption that the Langkawi MP could still use his influence to draw back lawmakers from the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) informal alliance.
PKR, fully behind its president, was the sole dissenter in PH to the idea of Dr Mahathir as leader again.
After weeks of impasse, the two parties then declared support for Anwar in a turnaround that drew criticism from Dr Mahathir’s supporters.
But with Dr Mahathir now founding yet another new party, Khalid suggested that Amanah might again throw its weight behind the 95-year-old Langkawi MP.
“Tun needs a party. With it, he has a platform for MPs who seek to join PH. We just need three MPs to cross over — 109 versus their 113,” Khalid said.
““Maybe some MPs may not want to be with Anwar.
“And Tun still has the ability to influence. We know he still has a huge influence among large segments of society,” he added.
Lesser of two evils?
Amanah, a PAS splinter, together with the DAP, played a pivotal role in bringing Dr Mahathir and Anwar together.
The alliance of the ex-prime minister and his one-time deputy helped rally Malaysians to vote for PH, enabling its stunning victory over the scandal-plagued Barisan Nasional (BN) government in the 2018 general election.
But the Dr Mahathir-Anwar alliance collapsed in a fallout triggered by ambiguity over the prime minister succession plan.
And Khalid agreed that the fight over the prime ministership could resurface should Dr Mahathir’s new “independent” party succeed in pulling in MPs into the Opposition bloc, giving their political foes more ammunition to quash PH’s possible resurgence.
The Amanah leader cited as proof the graft charges against DAP secretary-general and former finance minister Lim Guan Eng, which he alleged was one of many attempts to tarnish the Opposition’s image ahead of elections now rumoured to be planned for early next year.
“The longer we bicker among ourselves pertaining to who should be prime minister, the more time we give Perikatan Nasional to do their damage,” Khalid said.
“I hope the leaders understand and are better that we take over than allow Muhyiddin to reign.
“That’s not my opinion, that is the opinion of the presidential council,” the Amanah supreme council member said.
Political pundits believe PH is unlikely to repeat the feat it achieved at the 2018 general elections with ethnic Malay support seemingly swinging back towards Umno and PAS.
At the moment it remains unclear if either Anwar or Dr Mahathir could secure the numbers to form a government, as support for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s government appears unshakable despite talks of friction within the informal PN alliance.
To political observers, the tension between Muhyiddin’s fledgling party Bersatu and its older ally Umno, which is backed by PAS, has been worsening since March when they took power as each seek to assert its own dominance in PN.
Last Friday, Dr Mahathir announced the formation of a new “independent” Malay party with and five other MPs from the group dubbed Bersatu Blackout, which he said would uphold Bersatu’s original struggle.
This would be the second Malay-based party that Dr Mahathir has formed after quitting Umno in 2016 and forming Bersatu the same year.
Dr Mahathir said his new political party will be fully independent and will not avow support to either the ruling PN or PH, his former coalition partners.