PETALING JAYA – A poster of a Pakatan Harapan Cabinet featuring Datuk Seri Azmin Ali as the Prime Minister has gone viral.
The line-up with the tagline “Muda, Dinamik, Wibawa” (young, dynamic, integrity) began circulating shortly before Pakatan’s presidential council meeting on Thursday (Jan 4) afternoon.
It was clearly a counter-campaign against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s bid to be named the coalition’s prime minister candidate.
It also seemed like the handiwork of PKR supporters given that PKR leaders dominated 12 of the 27 posts that placed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir as the Deputy Prime Minister.
At around the same time that day, a statement by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was released, urging the coalition to “heed the voice of the people”.
It was quite a cryptic statement and although he did not mention anything about the tussle over the prime minister post, there were two giveaway points – he advised Pakatan to respect the spirit of consensus as well as to consult non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and activists on key issues.
He was basically telling the coalition that any decision made on the prime minister candidate has to be by consensus – that is, all four parties must agree rather than put the matter to a vote.
Those in the know say that his advice about consulting NGOs was aimed directly at Dr Mahathir because two leading women NGO leaders had met the Pakatan chairman and former premier last week to share their views.
They had also told the 92-year-old leader that they will boycott Pakatan in the general election if he is the prime minister candidate.
The sentiments are not favourable to Dr Mahathir and the wish-washy press conference that took place at the conclusion of Thursday’s meeting spoke volumes.
It was obvious that the coalition could not reach a consensus on the choice of prime minister.
And although PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah and Azmin attended the meeting, they were both absent from the press conference.
Pakatan leaders have done quite a swell job of keeping the discord under wraps. If not carefully handled, it will lead to an internal crisis.
Apart from the press statement, PKR insiders said Anwar had also despatched a letter from Sungai Buloh stating his views on the issue. He is clearly not in favour of Dr Mahathir for the post.
“Anwar is not being personal or out for revenge. He does not believe that Mahathir represents our reform agenda,” said a PKR leader.
The presidential council meeting was supposed to set the stage for Pakatan Harapan to declare Dr Mahathir as their prime minister candidate at their convention on Sunday (Jan 7).
It is unclear whether the pro-Mahathir camp would be able to push through their agenda without PKR coming along.
Pakatan leaders thought Dr Mahathir would be their trump card in the general election. Instead he has become a bone of contention for them.