A year after GE14, there is some fundamental shift in the momentum of the country’s two major rival political camps.
While the ruling Pakatan Harapan is plagued by fears of a possible split, Umno and PAS seem to have removed the last barriers for a solid cooperation.
Let’s start with the cooperation between Umno and PAS. The Islamist party’s grassroots used to have powerful resistance against any form of cooperation with Umno. When the late Spiritual Leader Nik Aziz was still around, he was strongly against a cooperation with Umno.
However, under the leadership of current party president Hadi Awang, such voices of opposition have since been tamed down remarkably.
Hadi Awang asserted during the just concluded party congress that leaders and members unhappy with a cooperation with Umno could quit the party, as their departure would make it easier for the two parties to cooperate.
The 65th party congress unanimously passed a motion for a tie-up with Umno but urged party leaders and the Syura Council to first sign the guidelines and conditions before initiating cooperation with Umno or any other party.
The full cooperation between Umno and PAS is believed to create a strong shockwave across the Malay society, threatening the PH administration.
As a matter of fact, with BN on the verge of collapse and under Mahathir’s siege strategy, a cooperation between Umno and PAS is seen as almost unstoppable and inevitable.
Johor Umno chairman Hasni Mohamed said if the government were to force the dissolution of Umno, they might either form a new party or join an existing one.
If Umno is dissolved, the biggest beneficiary will doubtlessly be PAS. That said, the party is not without its fears, as the new MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya may restart the investigation over PAS’ alleged RM90 million donation received from Umno.
Umno and PAS are banking on Malay votes as their most potent weapon, and PAS is also trying to exploit the existing conflicts between PPBM and PKR for its own gain.
Compared to the unity between Umno and PAS both for survival and vengeance, PH’s component parties appear to be less cohesive when it comes to sharing the power.
Tun Mahathir is attempting to enforce his “divide and rule” strategy to further consolidate his leadership, but such a move will invariably erode mutual trust among the allies and create suspicions.
The sex video scandal, for instance, has entailed all sorts of conspiracy theories, with some suspecting that it was done by people in PPBM with the motive of creating a rift within PKR, while others speculating a plot within PKR itself aimed at stopping economic affairs minister Azmin Ali from becoming prime minister.
Anwar has reiterated that he has faith that Mahathir will hand over the baton to him as promised, but Reuters reported recently quoting an aide to the prime minister that Mahathir was prepared to fulfill his promise, but “if Pakatan Harapan, or the people, want someone else, then that’s different.”
So, does it mean if PH, or the people, want someone else to be PM, then Anwar will not get the chance at all?
There are many in PPBM who do not really like Anwar Ibrahim.
Supreme council member Rais Yatim insisted that there was no black and white for Anwar to become PM, and said Azmin Ali was Mahathir’s favored successor.
So, when will Mahathir hand over the baton? In two years’ time? Two to three years’ time? Or three years?
There has been no definite timetable. If Mahathir is really serious about preserving the stability of the PH administration, he should have struck an accord with his PH allies and announced a deadline for him to step down in a bid to avert division and unnecessary speculations.
If Anwar eventually fails to become PM, then PH has betrayed the people’s trust. The PH administration could face an imminent collapse and an early election may have to be called.
PH could very likely succumb to Umno-PAS for reneging on its election pledges and failure to revive the economy and implement the promised institutional reforms.
The future of PH lies with the will of Tun Mahathir.
PH is walking on a tightrope and has created for itself a crisis that could see it plunge to its death, giving Umno-PAS renewed hopes of capturing Putrajaya again.