PAKATAN Harapan (PH) chose Dr Mahathir Mohamad over a younger candidate for the opposition prime ministerial post because it will not be an easy job taking the country out of the crisis that the Najib administration has created, says PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli.
Rafizi said the candidate must be able to lead the opposition bloc to overcome the challenges of the general election to come, which included tough, three-cornered fights, and upon winning the people’s mandate, address the problems left by the Barisan Nasional government under Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“If we win, it will not be a walk in the park. It will be a huge burden.
“Therefore (the choice of prime ministerial candidate) is important, the criteria are not age or skin colour. It is whether the candidate will help us win the election and after winning, can the candidate lead the cabinet and the government to overcome the huge problems left by Najib,” he said at today’s Terus Terang session on “Muafakat PH”.
Rafizi was answering a question on why PH had not chosen a younger prime ministerial candidate.
Besides Anwar Ibrahim, who was in jail and ineligible for the candidacy, and Dr Mahathir, there were no other leaders who had seen the country through a big crisis.
“We will pass the problems to him (Dr Mahathir) and he will (solve it) with the help of cabinet ministers. Therefore the question of young or old does not arise .
“The majority of PH leaders are of the view that Tun Mahathir meets the two criteria I have mentioned,” said Rafizi.
The Pandan MP said that if he were a young and inexperienced candidate, he would prefer to take charge of a country that was in “safe mode”.
Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir had also the ability to win over segments of voters that the opposition had previously had difficulty wooing, said Rafizi, in response to moderator Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, who had asked if the cynical response to Dr Mahathir’s appointment was justified.
“For example, (Dr Mahathir appeals to) veteran government officers, the elderly who had benefited from BN previously.
“We believe Tun Mahathir can bring in most of these hardcore Umno voters. We don’t need a lot, we only need 1-2% of these voters to win the marginal seats,” he said, adding that PH could not rely on retaining the voters who had supported the opposition as Pakatan Rakyat, which had counted PAS among its components.
He also said PH had not named its prime ministerial candidate because it hoped to win more votes, but because the people had a right to know who would be governing the country in the event of an upset in the election race,
During the PH Convention on Sunday, the opposition coalition had announcedthat Dr Mahathir would be the prime minister and Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, his deputy, if it won GE14.
Pakatan secretary-general Saifuddin Abdullah said an agreement between the the members of the pact dictated that Dr Mahathir must give way to Anwar as soon as the new government was able to secure a royal pardon for him.