KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 ― The plan to revive the so-called “grand coalition” of Opposition parties dubbed Pakatan Harapan (PH) Plus is hampered by the lack of communication between Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, sources said.
Several coalition sources confirmed to Malay Mail that that there has been no “meaningful” cooperation or official bloc meetings involving the PKR president, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman, and Parti Warisan Sabah president ― even before the final vote on Budget 2021.
“The communication is minimal, involving several individuals. There was no top level meeting to make concrete decisions to strengthen the Opposition as a bloc,” said a source from the Sabah-based Warisan.
PH holds 91 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, but the Opposition includes eight Warisan MPs, four from Pejuang, two from Parti Sarawak Bersatu, one from Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s Malaysia United Democratic Alliance (Muda) and independent Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik.
Another source said the lack of communication stemmed from the PH Plus’ leadership tussle in June when Dr Mahathir endorsed then Sabah chief minister Shafie as the coalition’s choice to be prime minister, after Anwar’s PH decided to not endorse the former prime minister.
“The talks were then suspended before Anwar in September announced that he had the numbers.
“The numbers were said to be individual MPs from BN and Umno, but it failed, now PH Plus is back on talking who will be the leader,” said another source from PH.
Anwar claimed on September 23 that he commanded a “strong, formidable and convincing numbers” before saying that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional government had lost the majority in the Dewan Rakyat.
However, on Tuesday, the government’s Budget 2021 was passed 111-108 in its third reading in the Dewan Rakyat. With this, the allocations for all 27 ministries have cleared the committee stage.
On Thursday, two Pakatan Harapan component party leaders called for a “political reset” within its coalition to focus on building a more united opposition under the PH Plus banner and fight in unison during the next general election.
In the joint statement, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu urged PH leaders to set aside past differences so that it can expand to PH Plus with a formidable force of 108 MPs.
They also said the passing of Budget 2021 on the third reading on Tuesday was disappointing for PH and its supporters, a proxy of a vote of confidence for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
The call for a “political reset” has not been taken well by Anwar, however, and he was said to have been upset, causing the cancellation of a PH presidential council meeting on that day.
Dr Mahathir has also in the last few months taken public swipes at Anwar including undermining Anwar’s ability to lead the Opposition, and criticising the latter’s Budget 2021 voting debacle and reliance on support from Umno MPs.