By Pook Ah Lek, Sin Chew Daily
After three months of disagreement, the three parties of Pakatan Harapan have finally reached a consensus on their one and only PM-designate Anwar Ibrahim.
Although the symbolic meaning of this decision is way more powerful than anything else at this juncture, both DAP and Amanah have only come to the realization of the fact that in the long run, only Anwar and his PKR can be reliable friends, having made several U-turns over the past few months.
Tun Mahathir today is no longer the man he was before the 14th general elections. It is questionable whether he still has the support of the Malay society now. All this while, DAP's leaders have had a lot of expectations from Tun M, and have attempted to lean towards him at the expense of Anwar.
DAP is at best a Chinese party. Other than the Chinese community, the party has made very little progress in winning the approval of the Malay society, thanks to former prime minister Mahathir.
When Mahathir was the PM for the first time, he was trying very hard to demonize DAP either in annual Umno assemblies or in the Malay society, arguing that it was an anti-Malay and anti-Islam chauvinistic party.
Power can readily make one crazy. Someone who has savored the sweet taste of power can hardly resist it again. Although both DAP and Amanah have repeatedly emphasized they are not power-crazy, they approached Mahathir outside the knowledge of Anwar, and embraced his "Shafie-Anwar-Mukhriz" solution.
While Anwar managed to contain his feelings, his party was apparently very unhappy about it.
This time, Mahathir did it openly. He no longer intended to conceal his ambition of making his son Mukhriz the country's future PM.
The "Shafie-Anwar-Mukhriz" proposal, as expected, caused a big stir in the Malaysian society when it first came to light.
Mukhriz? As Second DPM? Are you serious?
To DAP, they have always taken Chinese votes for granted and were doing all they could to please the Malay society when they were in the government, albeit with little success. On the contrary, Chinese votes began to drain away quietly but DAP leaders remained unperturbed, arrogant and detached from the community.
In the meantime, Mahathir only has five MPs on his side, far fewer than PKR's 38. Again, he made mention of his "rich Chinese" assertion of late, and this shows his attitude is still very much the same. He is still that same Mahathir Malaysians knew from half a century ago. DAP and Amanah would be digging their own graves if they opted to go with Mahathir and betray their PH allies in PKR.
PH's decision to support Anwar as PM candidate should help firm up the support of our multiracial voters. Even though Mahathir may be unsupportive, PH++ can win the election war so long as the old man refrains from creating more troubles.
If PH wins, Anwar gets to become prime minister, but if PN triumphs, Muhyiddin will invariably be their choice of PM.
Muhyiddin has secured the "verbal pledge" from 12 friendly parties to continue serving as PM even after the election. While such a pledge appears to be non-binding, it helps stabilize the morale.
Muhyiddin has enjoyed a relatively favorable public image. He is a very cautious man who seldom talks nonsense. His performance in battling the coronavirus has been laudable. There is hardly another candidate who can do a better job than him in the PN alliance.
But, this is provided his PPBM performs exceptionally well in the coming election.
PN is a very loose organization. While the PN-friendly parties have promised to support Muhyiddin's government, each has its own calculations and plans, and cohesion is frail. It is impossible for Muhyiddin to head the election war without PN being registered as a formal political organization.
The Chini by-election has sounded an alarm bell to Muhyiddin. The thumping victory of Umno's candidate could be largely attributed to the strength of "Muafakat Nasional" with minimal help from PPBM. Umno and PAS have received a major boost following the win in Chini. It is understandable that the two parties will reinforce the "Muafakat Nasional" consensus, and will go ahead with this model even without forming an alliance with PPBM.
PPBM is only a young party without a formidable grassroots organization. Nearly half of its MPs have been defectors from Umno. Moreover, internal conflicts are evident and real. Minor partners in the alliance aside, to satiate the lust of Umno and PAS alone is a tall order for Muhyiddin.
Seat allocation and contesting under the PN banner are major issues that will put the PM's wisdom to test. Umno veterans and leaders at all levels have already voiced out their displeasure, as they question the party leadership why Umno should kowtow to a minor partner.
It is foreseeable that Muhyiddin has tons of burden upon his shoulders and countless of obstacles to cross. If he manages to sail past the next GE without any untoward incident, his political career is set to brighten up.