Pakatan’s PM Choice: Steady Does It

February 24, 2013

Pakatan’s PM Choice: Steady Does It

by Terence Netto (02-23-13) @

COMMENT: As the prospects of victory at the polls for Pakatan Rakyat Anwar Ibrahim (recent)brighten – despite what the Intelligence Unit of The Economist says – stories spread which hold that elements within PAS are developing cold feet at the notion of Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s seventh Prime Minister.

The Economist, these days close to being what Time magazine was at one time – an authoritative oracle on the world’s current affairs – has pronounced BN as the likely winner of the 13th general election but the machinations of some elements within PAS suggest serious doubts about the credibility of that prediction – hence their jitters about Anwar as prospective PM and their apparent surreptitious manoeuvres against its possibility.

These elements reputedly want him replaced by someone else, probably by their party’s President Abdul Hadi Awang, or, as some reports have it, even by UMNO MP for Gua Musang, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

The Anwar-doubting elements are said to originate in the Syura Council, theTok Guru Nik Aziz highest policy vetting body of the Islamist party. But we have it on good authority from no less an august member of the council than the party’s spiritual leader, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, that the matter of a replacement for Anwar as Pakatan PM-designate has never been discussed by the council.

Yet, reports on incipient doubt about the Pakatan choice of Anwar as its candidate for PM originate from people who are members of the council.

In other words, the matter of a Pakatan PM-designate other than Anwar has come up by subterfuge and not by substantive motion within the Syura Council.

The matter is being bruited about by that faction of PAS that was said to have engaged in unity talks with UMNO within a day of the stunning results of the 12th general election on March 8, 2008.

That wing was stopped in its tracks largely by the repugnance the idea of unity with UMNO holds for Nik Aziz, the PAS Menteri Besar of Kelantan for the last 22 years.

Pouring cold water on UMNO-PAS pact

Nik Aziz was consistent in throwing cold water on the whole idea of unity every time it came up in the last five years. He argued against the idea on the grounds that PAS’ experience of a spell it endured as an UMNO ally within BN in the 1970s was bitter and that UMNO was not really for Islam.

Because his stature in the party is so high that his stance on a matter of this gravity cannot be countermanded, the idea of unity talks with UMNO could not gain traction within PAS circles. It would be dead in the water every time it came up for air. Nik Aziz’s disapproval whenever the matter was raised ensured that it remained comatose.

hasan-ali-1Two overt protagonists of the unity talks – former state executive councillor and former Selangor PAS chief, Dr Hasan Ali, and former party deputy president, Nasharuddin Mat Isa – found themselves on the outs with the party when it became evident that they were for the project of unity with UMNO.

Their unpopularity partly stemmed from their espousal of the idea, though they displayed other apparent faults that strained their ties to the party.

Hasan soon got the boot for his pains while Nasharuddin was recently dropped from the powerful Syura Council but remains an outlier in the party.

But clearly the apparent evidence of the unpopularity of the idea of unity talks with UMNO, as suggested by the experience of estrangement it brought its two most visible exponents, has not deterred the idea’s covert supporters within the party.

The surmise is that these supporters are keeping the pot stirring on the matter of an apparent lack of unanimity within PAS about the Pakatan designation of Anwar as its candidate for PM should the Opposition coalition win the general election.

This faction is said to be uneasy with the close ties between secularist DAP and syariah-neutral PKR and fear that this collaboration will redound to the disadvantage of the Islamist agenda of PAS.

The murmurs on Anwar’s unsuitability as PM-designate are being viewed against this backdrop and have gained credence as prospects rise of a Pakatan victory at the polls.

Razaleigh indubitably an UMNO man

Reports that the Anwar doubters have sounded out Razaleigh on the matter of his availability for the role only underscores the pro-unity-with-UMNO inclinations of this faction within PAS.

Razaleigh, despite all his fulminations in recent years against the policies and practices of UMNO which he laments as deviations from the party of old, is indubitably an UMNO man, albeit a nobler version of the grand old party.

NONEIn the face of reports of these manoeuvres and goings-on, the pro-Anwar sector of Pakatan which for all intents and purposes composes the dominant part of the coalition, should stay cool and unperturbed.

Pakatan anxiety about the machinations of a faction within PAS would supply grist for UMNO to undermine Pakatan and sow doubt in the electorate’s mind that the opposition is a makeshift coalition cobbled together to achieve Anwar’s prime ministerial ambitions.

The truth is more nearly that Anwar as Pakatan PM-designate is a long established consensus, proposed as early as 1999, before that year’s general election, by the immediate past president of PAS, Fadzil Noor (1989-2002), and endorsed by his successor Abdul Hadi Awang, with the backing of the party’s spiritual head, Nik Aziz, who was also spiritual head when Fadzil was in charge.

Doubts about Anwar by certain elements of PAS are about as likely to pass muster as Razaleigh’s critiques of UMNO are likely to be accepted as conventional wisdom within UMNO. The man is out of place within UMNO just as the Anwar doubters in PAS are out of place within Pakatan, not to mention within PAS.

16 thoughts on “Pakatan’s PM Choice: Steady Does It

  1. Win first,so stop counting the chickens before the eggs are hatched.That said, Pakatan must recognise that Anwar Ibrahim is eminently qualified to be the next Prime Minister.–Din Merican

  2. Anwar is the centre of gravity for Pakatan, we have to accept this fact. Without him Pas,Dap and Keadilan would not as solid as what we are now. That why every single second Anwar is always the bad guy just to smear and tarnish his credential to the lowest order.

  3. The streets of Penang said housing is not affordable. Inflation was ugly last year. Bus terminal in BM has gotten too unsafe with Indon stranger tapping shoulder or puff smoke onto face to get one to withdraw endlessly from ATM.
    Kedah MB has issue. Selangor is perching on a branch. A Pakatan win would give ajib and madahter a serial of heart attacks.

  4. I am with jamilnor on this. But I would like to expand on his comments.

    PAS supporters probably contribute the greatest number of votes to PR. But as things now stand, if PAS had to run on its own, as an independent party, it would never become the government of Malaysia. It would never be acceptable to the Chinese or Indians. And the Malay vote will always be split between UMNO and PAS. So PAS needs to be part of PR to become part of the government. It cannot win on its own.

    It is because of Anwar being the man in the middle, the go-between, and the great persuader and compromiser for these many years, that DAP and PAS have come together in common cause.

    BUT — It is also because of people of good will in both DAP and PAS, who share a common vision of Malaysia’s future as a multi-racial, multi-religious, and truly democratic society, that is free of the corruption and incompetent governance we have seen over the last decade of UMNO rule under Badawi and Najib.

    AND — It is also because of the example that they have shown as Chief Ministers – PAS, DAP, and Keadilan — in the states under their rule.

    In short, it is not just Anwar — it is because of the principles that the coalition believes in, but for which Anwar is the symbol and greatest spokesman.

    Neither DAP nor PAS nor Keadilan would ever have come this close to Putrajaya — on their own — unless they were part of the PR coalition.

    If you look back five years or more, it seemed like DAP and PAS were at loggerheads every day, and PR (then BA) would break apart. But not anymore. The coalition has held, it has strengthened, and it might even gain power at this year’s elections.

    So now there is a different issue. There is a real possibility of victory. And everyone in PR smells power. The opposition thinks that they have a chance to win the GE13, and they are right.

    But — there is an expression — “don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” So don’t fight over the spoils of power — before you actually have the power.

    And every time you “wash your laundry in public,” as the saying goes, you undercut yourselves — and UMNO is jubilant.

    For example, some in PAS have raised the “Allah issue.” I understand their sentiments. But I think they are wrong on the facts — because the word “Allah” was used by Christians long, long, long before the Prophet was born.

    But here is the practical and political result of their lament. After losing the peninsula in the 2008 GE, UMNO can succeed today only if it gets the vote bank in Sabah and Sarawak. And when the hardliners in PAS start harping on the Allah/Bible issue, they play into UMNO’s hands and make it harder to get Christian voters in East Malaysia to switch and vote for PR.

    When DAP in Johor had a public spat, it undermined PR. And UMNO was happy. But now it appears to have ended.

    It is not just people in PAS who need to be more reticent. Karpal Singh also has made comments that end up helping UMNO. People cut him some slack because he is an elder statesman, but he still acts like what Amartya Sen calls “the argumentative Indian.” It would be nice if Karpal would “stifle it” for the next few months.

    I believe that the elections this year will be very close. It will not be a matter of who wins. Rather it will be, who loses. Who makes more mistakes. Who has more scandals. Who undercuts themselves more.

    UMNO also has its own problems. They are running scared — they realize there is a chance that they might lose power for the first time since independence. The implications are tremendous.

    I would not want to be Najib right now. Mahathir acts like he is in charge. Muyhiddin is after my job. Bala and Deepak are talking. Even if UMNO squeaks by in GE-13, I am toast. The results will be blamed on me (and Rosmah), and I will no longer be Prime Minister.

    Anyhow, my friends on Din’s blog — thanks for listening !

  5. These guys need to fall in line, otherwise they will wither, opposition politics have long failed in malaysia because of such crucial disagreements on like who is the leader and hudud. i think pakatan needs to resolve this, otherwise they are not fit for long term alternative. these guys must take a look at history

  6. The three opposition parties need to come as one to form a new government. On their own they won’t have enough majority let alone form a government.

    Perhaps in keeping with the Westminster model, the person having the confidence of the majority of the elected MP’s shall be the next PM. Even if PKR holds 45 seats, DAP 44 seats and PAS 44 seats, Anwar is not guaranteed to be PM. He needs to convince the MP’s in PAS and DAP.

  7. I would like to add to Ambassador Malott’s comments. The question of who should be the Pakatan Prime Minister had been settled long ago. He is Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and the man who achieved what was thought impossible in 2008. He brought PAS and DAP together and made Pakatan Rakyat a reality. After his stunning victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election in August of that year, he was unanimously chosen as Leader of the Opposition in our 12th Parliament.

    The Leader of the Opposition is automatically Prime Minister if his coalition wins. By agreeing to make Anwar Ibrahim the Opposition Leader, PAS accepted that he would lead the next government. This is a non-issue except that low level dissidents and the disgruntled ulamak types (Hasan Ali and Nasha) in PAS are trying to be the spoilers. I regard them as dogs in the manger types.

    Anwar Ibrahim has all the qualities required to be the 7th Prime Minister–the charisma, intellect, moral fortitude, and experience needed for the job. It is best for PAS and Pakatan Rakyat to focus on winning GE-13 election, instead of fretting and quibbling over a long settled issue.–Din Merican

  8. While you guys go on about the political SNAFU, intrigue and stupidity of Politicians in general and egoistic, mighty mice in particular, i’ll offer just one practical observation.

    Malaysia does not have the luxury of time to dither about Governance. Post-GE13, all sorts of Listen, Listen, Listen to Promises, Promise, Promises have been bandied about, while the World passes us by.

    The Establishment is in frightened ‘branded’ stasis while the Opposition is finding itself hemmed in by cynical Federalism.

    Should the ‘unthinkable’ happen, the Opposition has to hit the ground running. Opposition elders, like LKS, Karpal, Awang Hadi and even LGE have a propensity to Oppose – sometimes even themselves. I can’t say i blame them, cuz being in the ‘wilderness’ tends to make one a wild-man.

    At present, running an Opposition state like Selangor, is akin running a Business corporation; Penang has become an Accounting consultancy; Kedah is where all the lil rustic, theocratic Napoleons hone their skills and Kelantan is left way behind the economic curve. There is a civil-service vs governmental policy disconnect.

    Of course, the states under UMNO-BN are in worse shape – dependent on handouts and remaining in the doldrums. Even ‘sterling’ examples like Johor is looking like a huge cankerous ulcer and Pahang is slowly being garrotted by ill conceived environmental disasters.

    The only person who has any idea or understanding how the Federal Government works is Sdr Anwar, and a few within PKR (the ‘running dogs’, if one were to be nasty). As the Opposition Chief, he alone realizes the magnitude and enormity of the inexperience of his lackeys at the Federal level – and has begged them to be humble, to learn quickly and not resort to emotionalism and personal hubris.

    For that, he has my vote.

  9. CLF,
    Which running dogs, may I enquire? Azmin Ali or the heavenly snake called Tian Chua. Azmin Ali was just a Private secretary to Anwar. I bet LGE can run the country 1000 times better than him, given a chance. Of course, at this moment, Anwar is the only person suitable for PM job. Not because his skillsets, more like his “Ike” attitude which seems to fade away

    Agreed! Over confidence made Labour Neil Kinnock lost the GE to John Major in 1992.

    Semper Fi,
    True! But then again Karpal as the DAP chairman has given his unequivocle support to Anwar.

  10. BN ruling party in power is long become a dictatorship now . However, dictatorship is not an issue if it is well managed and leads the country advance to new high, like China.

    We cannot even match with Korea which is much poorer than 55 years ago. Poor country like Cambodia may overtake us soon if we can’t change. Give Anwar and Lim Guan Eng a chance and see what happen next?

  11. Mr Malott, Din and fans

    Of course you all want Anwar to be PM and are very confident he will be one soon. But the reality on the ground is not what you think. The Malays are so not in favor of Anwar becoming PM. And just go to all PAS blogs where they are all saying Hadi will be PM. And what if DAP gets the most seat, sure they want LGE to be PM. They wont give the loser party to be PM.

  12. dear Ambassador Malott, we thank you for taking the time to analyse the situation and give us your take. it goes like honey down the throat.
    Anwar is the only one who has been deputy PM and therefore having the necessary experience and qualification. he also knows internal workings of UMNO.

    PAS has a pro-umno faction which still dreams of an unity government with UMNO in case of a hung parliament. if there is only a narrow win for PR then these radicals will cause mayhem by persuading the frogs to jump.
    the more monumental task for Anwar awaits him after PR’s victory.
    future generation of malaysians will be thankful if Anwar succeeds in turning Malaysia around in the right direction.

  13. Its important to align , and write to PR , that they are courting disaster for the only chance they might have at power and their amibition to turn around the country. If BN wins, they would use everything in their mind to split the opposition, running a blistering race as this one, i see the 3 parties coming apart because enough wedges drawn in between them, jail term for their leaders and they ‘d be nothing. Dr M has the text book Ready for Najib, Muyhiddin, Hisham any one who is now his lackey. It is win or perish…the next shot will be 20 years from now

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