Amidst controversy over Pakatan Harapan’s prime minister designate should it win in the 14th General Election, I would like to pose these questions:
What is the prime objective of Harapan – To topple Najib? To topple Umno? Or to bring sweeping reforms that will give the nation a new lease of life?
Despite the obsession of many to get rid of Najib or Najib and Umno together, I think what is most important for the nation is to institute sweeping reforms that will bring robust economic growth and steer the nation towards genuine national integration.
Getting rid of Najib and Umno is only the means to an end, which is reforms. Achieving the former without attaining the latter is therefore futile.
However, we have to be realistic. Without winning GE 14, there is no possibility of reforms; hence, the former is a pre-requisite to reforms.
Now, we come to the issue at hand: who should be the prime minister if Harapan wins GE 14?
Who would be more suited to lead a government to realise thorough reforms: Mahathir Mohamad or Anwar Ibrahim (assuming the latter can assume premierhip)?
Considering the past records of these two individuals, and without going into the details, I think the easy pick is Anwar Ibrahim.
However, the tricky part is, Anwar is in prison and he needs a royal pardon before he can get elected and appointed as prime minister.
Hence, the need to appoint a prime minister before Anwar is qualified to take up the premiership.
Is there any problem with this idea – that we should have an interim PM before Anwar is qualified to take up the premiership?
If there is no problem among the four component parties over this plan, then I don’t see why the issue of premiership should appear to be intractable.
Whether we call the nominee an interim PM or just PM is immaterial, as long as all the four parties and the electorate is in agreement that Anwar should be the PM leading the reforms, as soon as he is available.
Or perhaps there is indeed a problem of reaching consensus on accepting Anwar as PM. If so, then the leadership of all the four component parties must sit down together to resolve their differences rationally, putting the interests of the nation over and above everything else.
It they still can’t agree on the choice of PM, it’s not the end of the world. They can always make this decision after winning the election. What is most important to the electorate is that Harapan has a trustworthy leadership with a good plan to take the nation out of the present mess. If the electorate is happy with that, who becomes the PM is of secondary importance. After all, looking at democratic elections around the world, not many challengers do name their PM designate before the election.
-Writer Kim Quek is author of banned book The March to Putrajaya