KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council’s conferment of a “full mandate” to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for the coalition’s return to federal government is not a carte blanche power to negotiate with just any political group, PKR’s communications director asserts.
Fahmi Fadzil clarified that the power given to the PKR president, who is also PH’s prime ministerial candidate, only allows Anwar to engage in discussions with other Opposition powers not in their coalition and share the same reform goals.
“It refers only to the Opposition, but if there are people aligned to the reform agenda, those who are sick and tired of the [political] instability and want to see a better Malaysia together, I think that is allowed,” Fahmi told Malay Mail when contacted.
The Lembah Pantai MP was responding to questions on the extent of Anwar’s “full mandate” as announced on July 6, and added that it also covers engaging lawmakers who were allied to PH but broke away to join the current ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) and have since had a change of heart.
“For those returning to the fold, it is not out of the question,” Fahmi said, holding out an olive branch to potential allies.
However, he stressed that PKR has “very clear principles” on what it will tolerate and what it will not.
“And for us to immediately accept those who betrayed the cause, it won’t be so easy,” he said, explaining that those seeking to re-partner PH will be scrutinised to find out their real intentions before a decision is made.
Malaysia’s political landscape continues to remain in tumult following a government change from PH Plus — the broader coalition that includes lawmakers from Sabah-based Warisan led and certain independents, in March.
Open disagreements with allies in the past few weeks have triggered several political switcheroos, most notably prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his group of six MPs sacked from Bersatu breaking away from PH to form their own as-yet-unnamed independent bloc.
Warisan permanent chairman and Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong indicated last Sunday that the party “can consider” membership for Dr Mahathir and co, though he added that a party constitutional change is required to do so.
Similarly, the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance comprising Bersatu, PAS and Barisan Nasional (BN) have terminated the memberships of some MPs who refused to toe the line.
The latest casualty is Sri Gading MP Datuk Shahruddin Md Salleh who was kicked out of Bersatu last week after his abrupt resignation as deputy works minister last month. Shahruddin had previously said he will continue supporting the PN government, but has since kept mum following his Bersatu sacking.
What the ‘full mandate’ could mean for PH Plus
Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun believes the power gives Anwar more space, time and flexibility to rebuild fraying political ties within PH Plus, especially given the nomination of Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal as an alternative prime ministerial candidate.
“It will give the impression that the door for Shafie to come in as PM is not totally closed yet.
“How would voters react to this piece of news?” Oh shared with Malay Mail when contacted for his opinion.
He said that for many “progressive” voters, there was little difference in having Anwar or Shafie as the PM candidate as they would still support PH Plus for a new government.
“The important thing is of course conservative Malay voters,” he said, referring to the 75 per cent of the racial demographic group that had cast their ballots for Umno or PAS in the last general election.
He added that “it appears Shafie is more conducive as PM candidate to do so rather than having Anwar as PM candidate”.
Media and perception consultant Terence Fernandez held a different outlook.
He said that in the case of Anwar and Shafie, the advantage is to the former as the Sabah chief minister needs the support of the bigger PH coalition and its component parties if he wanted to go national as Malaysia’s first prime minister from Borneo.
“Shafie knows without PH he can’t cling on to the premiership for long. Dr Mahathir’s bloc is only five. Muhyiddin has six plus the ex-PKR cartel. Umno’s numbers together with PAS are sufficient to edge out Muhyiddin’s bloc.
“So, it’s more prudent for Warisan to cooperate with PH as any lay observer can comprehend what years of cooperation with Umno has done to Sabah and Sabah politicians,” Fernandez said.