Pejuang criticises Anwar's leadership for Johor state polls, says PH is not uniting the opposition: Report
JOHOR BAHRU: The opposition bloc in Johor state is not united during this election because its main leader Mr Anwar Ibrahim appears to be working for his own Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) only, said Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) president Mukhriz Mahathir.
In an interview with Malay Mail on Saturday (Feb 26), Mr Mukhriz was asked to comment on the apparent lack of unity among the opposition parties, including PKR’s decision to use its own logo for the Johor election.
The other two Pakatan Harapan (PH) partners, Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) are contesting with PH’s logo.
“We didn’t quite understand that within Pakatan itself they are having two logos, so what happened to the big tent? How do you contest under a big tent when you have things like that?” said Mr Mukhriz referring to the concept put forward by Mr Anwar to unite all the opposition parties for the Johor polls.
In January, Mr Anwar was reported as saying that he planned to unite all opposition parties — including Pejuang — to ensure that Barisan Nasional (BN) and the United Malay National Organisations (UMNO) would be defeated in the Johor polls.
But his “big tent” approach did not materialise following the nominations on Saturday which resulted in many multi-cornered contests involving the opposition parties.
Pejuang and PH are facing off against each other in 34 seats, mostly between Pejuang and PKR as well as between Pejuang and Amanah.
The other two opposition parties, which make up the so-called third bloc with Pejuang are Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) and Parti Warisan (Warisan).
Both MUDA and Warisan are clashing with PH in seven seats. They are also going against the other two main blocs, BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN).
Mr Mukhriz also said that Mr Anwar appeared to be acting primarily on behalf of PKR instead of PH or the larger opposition.
“This is my assessment from the outside as an outsider. Perhaps my opinion is not valid but that’s how I see it that even between them (PH component parties) there’s no true leadership of PH,” said Mr Mukhriz.
He said during the 2018 general election, it was his father, then PH chairman Dr Mahahir Mohamad, who decided that all four PH parties should unite and contest under the PKR logo.
“The thinking behind it was to unite all of us but what’s happened to PH now, two different logos, disunited,” he added.
“Ironically it was Tun (Mahathir) who did it for the first time. Now Tun is not in PH anymore and they cannot get their act together on their own so how are we supposed to come in under the big tent?” said Mr Mukhriz during the interview with Malay Mail.
Dr Mahathir who is Pejuang chairman announced last Wednesday that the party will be contesting 42 out of the 56 seats in the Johor election.
Mr Mukhriz who is member of parliament for Jerlun in Kedah, also said that Pejuang’s participation in the Johor election was not intended to split the opposition, but rather to gauge its standing among voters heading into the next general election, likely to be held by this year.
GIVING UP SEATS FOR MUDA CAN STRENGTHEN OPPOSITION: DAP
Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has defended his party’s decision to give up seats to MUDA in the Johor election, saying that the move could strengthen the opposition.
Mr Lim said that the move might appear “unusual” to some people as this would only strengthen another party instead of DAP.
“But if you only look at strengthening yourself, how does that help to promote your big tent?” he told Free Malaysia Today (FMT) on Monday.
DAP and Amanah had earlier made way for MUDA to contest in six seats: Puteri Wangsa, Tenang, Bukit Kepong, Parit Raja, Machap and Bukit Permai.
The decision by DAP and Amanah was made on the principle of winning together, Mr Lim said adding, “knowing that if we fight separately we will lose miserably”.
“Winning that seat is not the purpose. Winning seats sufficient to form a government should be the ultimate purpose,” Mr Lim was quoted as saying.
Earlier, local media reported that the decision to allow for MUDA to contest the Puteri Wangsa seat, had irked PKR with some party leaders questioning the move.
They claimed that the “easy-to-win” seats should not be given to parties whose loyalty to the opposition was untested.
The state election was called after the legislative assembly was dissolved on Jan 22.
Johoreans will go to the polls on Mar 12, with early voting set to take place on Mar 8.