KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) said on Friday (Jun 19) that its president Anwar Ibrahim - and not Dr Mahathir Mohamad - should be Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) choice of candidate for the prime minister post, if the coalition recaptures Putrajaya.
In a statement issued by its central leadership council and Members of Parliament (MP), the party said it remained open to discussion with all parties, including Dr Mahathir, in their efforts to “save Malaysia” and restore the people’s mandate.
“However, the party has decided not to support the proposal nominating Dr Mahathir as prime minister, and holds fast to the PH consensus to nominate Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister,” the statement read.
In thanking the two other PH component parties for consistently supporting Mr Anwar’s candidacy for the premiership, PKR said problems arose when Dr Mahathir had sought to return to the position for the third time.
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This statement came amid an impasse within PH and its allies over the candidates for the prime minister post. A decision on the matter should have been announced on Tuesday, but was delayed as the parties could not reach an agreement.
The three-party PH, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s faction of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) - collectively dubbed “PH Plus” - had met last week to discuss the issue.
Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) organising secretary Anthony Loke reportedly said that Dr Mahathir had offered to be prime minister again before handing over the position to Mr Anwar.
However, PKR is not in favour of the proposal, hence the delay in announcing PH’s decision on the matter. The party is cautious of Dr Mahathir’s offer, as he had not committed to a timeline to pass the premiership to Mr Anwar when PH was in power, despite an earlier agreement.
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In its Friday statement, PKR said it would focus its energy and prepare for a snap election that may be called anytime.
“Keadilan is committed to continue strengthening PH and to continue mobilising the energy of all parties who shared the same understanding to restore the people’s mandate in the near future,” the statement read.
The negotiation over the premiership came as PH strategises its moves to return to federal power, following a week-long political tussle that had resulted in a sudden change of government in February.
Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, who is Bersatu president, had pulled the party out of PH and joined forces with United Malays National Organisation and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia to form the new Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
Dr Mahathir’s motion of no-confidence vote against Mr Muhyiddin was accepted by the parliament speaker, but the May 18 sitting was only held for the ruler’s speech.
His party membership was subsequently nullified for not sitting with the new PN government during the parliament sitting. Four other Bersatu Members of Parliament, including his son Mr Mukhriz Mahathir, also lost their party membership.
They filed a lawsuit to challenge their removal from the party, while Mr Muhyiddin has applied to strike out the suit.
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In an immediate response, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) urged PKR to return to a PH decision to name Dr Mahathir as prime minister, as Mr Anwar did not have enough MPs backing him.
Mr Anwar’s nomination as prime minister had been the first option, they said in a statement, and if that fails to garner enough support to wrest back power, the second option would be Dr Mahathir as prime minister and Mr Anwar as his deputy.
“Having exhausted all efforts, we found that the first option only managed to obtain a maximum of 96 MPs, which are 91 from PH (38 PKR, 42 DAP and 11 Amanah), and five more including Dr Mahathir and four Bersatu MPs with him.”
“Mr Anwar’s final efforts to obtain GPS support were not successful within the time frame agreed and (he has) failed to obtain sufficient support,” the statement read. GPS refers to ruling state coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
The two PH component parties hoped that efforts to obtain support through the second option could be carried out as agreed.