PAKATAN Harapan (PH) leaders said an opposition coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his former nemesis-turned-ally, Anwar Ibrahim, will be the key to overthrowing Barisan Nasional in the next elections.
They said the comments by the former prime minister on his willingness to work with Anwar had finally put to rest the conflict between both leaders that was first sparked 20 years ago.
In an interview with British newspaper The Guardian yesterday, Dr Mahathir said he had no problems supporting Anwar becoming the next prime minister after he is released from jail.
“A Dr Mahathir-Anwar team, along with the entire leadership of PH and its machinery, is the force that will ultimately unleash the wave of the people’s uprising against a kleptocratic government that is greedy and has lost its way,” said Amanah strategic director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“Could this finally be the time and moment that Malaysians have been waiting for, where the ‘postponed agenda’ of (Dr Mahathir) endorsing his protégé Anwar finally come true?” he told The Malaysian Insight.
In 1998, Dr Mahathir fired Anwar, who was deputy prime minister and deputy president of Umno, on allegations of corruption and sodomy. Anwar was then imprisoned on charges of abusing his power.
PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang said Dr Mahathir and Anwar were “big-hearted” in their willingness to put aside their difference and unite to bring about change to Malaysia.
“The issue is not about who will be the next PM, but Dr Mahathir and Anwar working together to bring about change.
“This is a big change in the history of Malaysian politics,” said the Batu MP.
Dr Mahathir-Anwar saga
Before his sacking in 1998, Anwar was Dr Mahathir’s “blue-eyed boy” and was fast-tracked in Umno and the government.
Anwar held the powerful finance and deputy prime minister portfolios before his fall from grace.
Their strong political relationship was seen as unbreakable until the economic crisis hit Malaysia towards the end of the 1990s, sparking differences of opinion between the two, which ultimately led to Anwar’s sacking.
But the turning point in their 20-year political rivalry was in September 2016 when Dr Mahathir attended a court hearing to support Anwar’s motion of filing a suit against the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016.
While the healing of the rift between the two politicians has been welcomed by many in the opposition, many in PKR remain unhappy because Dr Mahathir has yet to apologise for his actions against Anwar.
This is the reason for the current roadblock PH is experiencing in confirming its leadership line-up, which is required for its registration at the Registrar of Societies (RoS).
DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua said the party will work with both Dr Mahathir and Anwar to bring about political change in Malaysia.
“The reconciliation between the two leaders, who have gone through decades of bitterness and fighting, is a big step to unite and strengthen the opposition,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.
Bersatu’s chief of policy and strategic bureau Dr Rais Hussin said Dr Mahathir was fully aware of what it takes to ensure that PH wins in the 14th general election.
“The opposition coalition now needs to focus on its structure and ensure its leadership line-up is made up of those who can bear the responsibility of saving this country.
“The election manifesto needs to be in line with the needs of the people. It needs to include issues that are being faced by the people, including the rising cost of living,” he said.
PH is expected to hold a meeting next week before it announces its final leadership line-up and logo before it registers itself with the RoS.