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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — The fifth Parti Amanah Negara convention which was launched yesterday could well be the start of the next chapter for Pakatan Harapan (PH), as a component party has now openly called for the next “grand coalition” of Opposition parties.
The Islamist party which has 11 MPs also showed its willingness to keep cordial ties not only with other PH parties PKR and DAP amid a fracture over who to lead the pact next, but also Parti Warisan Sabah and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air which has grown cynical over PH’s success.
Here are the three things we learned from the launch of this year’s convention which is held in Bukit Katil, Melaka but was live-streamed to the public amid Covid-19 this year:
1. The idea of ‘Pakatan Plus’ still well and alive
Party president Mohamad Sabu’s keynote address yesterday followed a joint statement he made with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng earlier this month calling for a “political reset” ahead of the next general election — to unite a formidable front of 108 Opposition MPs.
This call was made following the failure of the Opposition led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to stymy the tabling of Buget 2021, and a possible takeover of the government.
Yesterday, the president also known as Mat Sabu expressed his willingness to repair ties with other leaders such as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, despite the former prime minister’s increasing public criticism against this former allies.
He also reminded delegates that PH’s win in the 14th general election, something which was previously unthinkable, was in no small part due to both Dr Mahathir’s leadership but also cooperation with Anwar.
“Once again, I emphasise that I am ready to be a bridge to close the divide. Even if I am used as a stepping stone, for the sake of the people and this beloved country, I will do as we have done before, and that is, earnestly and with full commitment,” he said.
Amanah Youth chief Shazni Munir Mohd Ithnin later told Malay Mail that the convention was the best sounding board to here the delegates’ reception towards Mohamad and his deputy Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub’s commitment to such a “grand coalition”.
“Overall, they provided positive and constructive input,” he said, referring to the delegates.
“Even at the Youth level, we want the ‘grand coalition’ that will be formed later to be led and shaped by Pakatan Harapan itself, as the nucleus of the big coalition.
“For that purpose, we also hold that the PH Presidential Council – as the highest platform in Pakatan Harapan – should immediately convene to discuss and decide on the form and format of this ‘grand coalition,” he added.
2. Amanah no longer mere shadow of PAS
Formed by dissenting camp in Islamist party PAS, that is now part of the government after colluding with Perikatan Nasional, Amanah has always been looked down compared to other more senior PH components.
But with another year’s notch on its belt, Amanah has now started showing its maturity in several party reforms through constitutional amendments.
Its women’s wings — Angkatan Wanita Amanah Nasional (Awan) and Wanita Muda Amanah (Warda) — will now also appoint chiefs for these two wings in all its division and branches, something which is still not a norm in other parties such as PKR and Umno.
Party leaders believe that this will now allow women leaders to rise up the ranks of the party, and join its secondary and tertiary level of leadership, to back the top line-up.
“Don’t be surprised if women will challenge the presidential post in the future,” said its secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli in his speech yesterday.
3. Will Amanah provide the spark for PH’s renewal?
Amanah is the first PH party to hold its convention this year, with PKR and DAP set to follow later. With the “grand coalition” the biggest talking point with Amanah, it remains if the two parties will follow suit in demanding the same.
Already, Mohamad’s call for the “grand coalition” has caused a stir with PKR, with its Youth wing secretary Ahmad Syukri Razab reportedly challenging PH leaders to propose an alternative to the pact’s figurehead rather than his president Anwar.
Ahmad Syukri also dismissed the claim that keeping Anwar as PH’s leader, and subsequently as a prime minister candidate, would merely benefit PKR.
Anwar’s legitimacy to lead the Harapan coalition has been increasingly questioned following his failure to prove his claim of having the numbers to form a new government.
Previously, it was reported that Anwar had offered to resign as Opposition Leader should he fail to prove he has the numbers in the Dewan Rakyat, but no decision has been made so far despite Anwar not providing any conclusion to the matter.
Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal is among those pushing for a change of leadership in the opposition, with factions within PH parties also calling for a line-up of younger leaders to take over the reins.