The opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan has now taken bold steps to up the ante in their fight against Prime Minister Najib Razak.
And it is bound to nominate Mahathir as their Prime Ministerial candidate.
While local media networks were at odds on news that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad would be nominated as the opposition PM’s candidate, jailed PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim has relinquished his right to be the Pakatan PM candidate.
This would clear the way for Mahathir to take over the daunting task of campaigning as the future PM of Malaysia, in a return scripted to force the toppling of Najib from power.
The deal is, according to sources, between Mahathir and Anwar and both leaders believe it is the best deal they could strike in order to increase Pakatan’s chances in the next General Elections.
“Given that Anwar will be stuck in jail during the elections, a tough decision was made by both leaders, and it is one that will be widely accepted by the opposition supporters,” said the source.
Recently, Mahathir played the game announcing that he would not mind taking over the mantle if that was to make it easier for the opposition coalition to topple Najib.
A source said these were what was decided between Anwar and Mahathir during their back door meetings.
However, this move has caused rifts among the ranks of the Pakatan, with pro-opposition activists venting their rage that Mahathir, who has been the villain for years now playing the role of the saviour.
But Anwar, being the strong man in the opposition, has probably calmed most of the spirited ones, that is if they realise that a jail bird will not be able to help topple Najib from his perch, not in this election anyway, the source said.
On the other hand, the symbolic move, Anwar said, is to encourage Harapan to focus on the general election.
There has been much squabbling over who will be prime minister if the opposition coalition wins.
And it is also obvious that PKR’s President Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anwar’s wife, will not be able to carry the weight of the electoral battle – one that could be the dirtiest ever in the country’s history
“With regard to the calls to focus full attention on the general election, therefore, I choose not to offer myself as a prime ministerial candidate.
“The friction (over who will be prime minister) is exhausting (the opposition), as the final decision lies with the people in the general election,” he said in a statement released yesterday through his party.
Anwar urged Harapan to pour all its efforts into more pressing matters, saying that Harapan’s attention must be fixed on national policies, the ravages of the system, and on winning the 14th general election.
“Side issues such as the struggle for power and position, or a war of words in Harapan cannot be allowed,” he said.
PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli had outlined an elaborate plan on how Anwar could return to politics, which would involve a royal pardon and a by-election but he will have to keep these plans for future.
An electoral win by the opposition will mean the coalition will have to form the next government and it won’t be able to do that by chosing Anwar as the next PM.
It will take time for Anwar to be freed from jail, while there is no certainty he will be able to win a seat if he contest, an election being an election after all.
In order not to complicate matters for the opposition, Anwar has perhaps take the right steps to ensure that the opposition gets a fairer chance against the Barisan Nasional in the upcoming polls.