It is not coincidental that Tun Mahathir has over and again enlisted the help of people Anwar and his family are not happy with.
Obviously the prime minister has some hidden motives.
When Mahathir put up his cabinet last year, he surprisingly appointed PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, who had already been sworn in as Selangor menteri besar, as economic affairs minister.
The Anwar camp was not happy, but again it was the prime minister’s prerogative to appoint a cabinet minister.
Later in August, Mahathir appointed former IGP Abdul Rahim Noor, who was alleged to have beaten up Anwar in 1998, as facilitator for southern Thailand peace talks, much to the frustration of Anwar, his wife Wan Azizah and daughter Nurul Izzah.
Mahathir explained that Abdul Rahim had experience during the insurgency and terrorism activities.
And now, the appointment of former PKR legal affairs bureau chairman Latheefa Koya as MACC chief commissioner has sparked the contradictions between the two rival factions in PKR.
Anwar’s supporters joined the online campaign to demand Latheefa’s resignation while Azmin and his loyalists were strongly behind her appointment, including vice president Tian Chua who urged the public to give her time to prove her worth.
Anwar found himself unable to keep quiet any further and voiced up his displeasure.
A divided PKR goes very well with PPBM’s will because with 50 parliamentary seats, the former is way too powerful.
The conflicts between PKR and PPBM begin to surface. Mahathir’s earlier move to recruit Umno parliamentarians and members raised the eyebrow of PKR.
PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli described the act as recycling waste and was going against the the voters’ mandate for rejecting Umno or BN.
In March this year, Mahathir appointed Beluran MP Ronald Kiandee who had defected from Sabah Umno to PPBM, as public accounts committee chairman, sending the unhappy Nurul Izzah to quit the committee.
Nurul told the Singapore media in an interview that it was hard for her to work with a “former dictator”
The prime minister’s political secretary Abu Bakar Yahya hit back at Nurul, calling her immature, irrational and emotional.
PKR’s Kebun Bunga state assemblyman Ong Khan Lee recently said in an article released to the media that Anwar already had the support of majority MP’s in PH and even the Dewan Rakyat and was already the “de facto prime minister”, a claim that definitely irritated PPBM’s leaders.
Mahathir has in recent months kept reneging on PH’s election manifesto. This, along with his repeated policy reversals and dictatorial style, has irked many a PKR leader. However, Anwar is working very hard to tame down the fury. He even said he could understand and was concerned about Nurul calling Mahathir a “former dictator”, reiterating that he and his family would continue to support the prime minister.
Anwar has apparently picked up a lesson from the 1998 experience, but that might not be enough to quell the two-decades old feud between Mahathir and PKR as well as the power struggle within the ruling coalition. More incidents may pop up as the two-year handover deadline nears.
Mahathir may have multiple motives in Latheefa’s appointment. Firstly, he wanted someone competent to take the place of Mohd Shukri Abdull. Secondly, it was his “divide and rule” strategy for PKR!
Mahathir does not put all his effort in reforming the country. All that is in his mind is factional interest. As a result, the progress of reform has been sluggish while his personal credibility is eroded, his approval rating down sharply from 71% in August to merely 46% today.
In the absence of mutual trust among PH component parties, it will be impossible for the coalition to work as a team.