SHAH ALAM, May 11 — Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said today that Pakatan Harapan components agreed he could engage with parties including Umno to gain the support needed to try and make Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the prime minister in 2020 and 2021.

In the PKR deputy presidency debate today, Saifuddin told challenger Rafizi Ramli he was not acting independently at the time, but given a mandate by the PH leadership as the coalition had 109 federal lawmakers in its corner then, or just three short of a simple parliamentary majority.

“When the Pakatan Harapan government fell, PKR had discussions, Pakatan Harapan also held discussions. A decision was made that we are to negotiate with MPs outside Harapan.

“The task was given to several leaders. And I want to stress that it was not about me, Saifuddin Nasution, doing the negotiation on my own accord, it was a collective decision.

“I was given the task to approach leaders from Sabah and Sarawak, and also to meet parties outside Harapan including independent MPs, MPs from an Islamic party, from Umno. From all parties.

“What we needed then was not for them to jump from their party (to ours), but (we wanted) their commitment to support (Anwar),” he said in the debate.

In September 2020, Anwar claimed in a press conference that he had obtained a “strong, formidable and convincing” support from among members of parliament to form a government to replace that of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Port Dickson parliamentarian claimed that he was supposed to have a meeting with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, then Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, but this was delayed as the latter was being treated at the National Heart Institute (IJN) at the time.

This takeover never took place. Since then, Muhyiddin has also been replaced by Umno’s Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Today, Saifuddin added that all the progress had been reported to the leadership council and that he had no regrets for his role in the move.

“If this was a clandestine operation that was detrimental to us (PH)), it would have been impossible for us to do it in such a transparent manner.

“It was an effort done just because we were short of only several seats,” he said.

Saifuddin said after the move failed, the party had moved on from negotiations and are currently focusing on efforts to strengthen the party and PH to win the 15th General Election.