FRANCIS PAUL SIAH
COMMENT I like Anwar Ibrahim’s post on his Instagram page on July 3 where he showed a photo of himself with Lim Guan Eng. His caption included the hashtag, “#kawantetapkawan (friends will be friends).”
The DAP secretary-general met with the PKR president at the latter’s office in Petaling Jaya that day amid the stalemate on who should be named the prime ministerial candidate of Pakatan Harapan Plus.
Even during this time of political upheavals and uncertainties, I still want to believe I’m certain about something. That is, PKR and DAP will be on the same side as long as Anwar and Lim are in charge of their respective parties.
Anwar is probably on the dot about his ties with DAP and Lim – “Kawan tetap kawan”.
Why do I think so? They have been together since 1998 when Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister and “Reformasi” started.
That’s 22 long years. After fighting alongside each other for such a long time, and for some periods lingering together in the political wilderness, the understanding, respect, and bond are there.
I don’t expect that bond to be torn apart easily even if “there are no permanent enemies nor friends in politics”.
In the days of Pakatan Rakyat comprising DAP, PKR and PAS, the coalition had also achieved electoral success in the 2008 general election.
DAP took control of Penang while PKR helmed Selangor, two of the country’s most developed states. PAS also regained Kelantan while Perak was momentarily in the hands of Pakatan Rakyat.
For Dr Mahathir Mohamad to sneer at Anwar and his Harapan allies that without him (Mahathir), Harapan would not have achieved anything was somewhat unfair as that was not altogether correct.
What is only true is that the opposition coalition failed to dethrone the federal government.
I would also include Amanah as a stable ally of PKR and DAP, that is as long as Mohamad Sabu is the party president.
When PAS was part of Pakatan Rakyat, it was Mohamad and his less conservative, reform-minded group in the Islamic party which carried the PAS face in the coalition.
With Mohamad and his ex-PAS comrades in Amanah now, I foresee the PKR-DAP-Amanah triumvirate to stay together for some time to come, if not many years ahead.
Now, my most important question for today: Are Mahathir and Shafie Apdal still “Kawan tetap kawan” of Harapan?
Reading Mahathir’s statements over the past weeks, I believe he has burnt his bridges with Anwar and in turn, Harapan.
After his proposal to be the PM candidate was rejected by PKR, it became clear that Mahathir was adamant that Anwar should not be prime minister because “he (Anwar) was a liberal and lacks the support of the Malays”.
Assuming that PKR has supported Mahathir’s quest to return as PM for the third time, if only for six short months, would he be taking the same jabs at Anwar as well?
Or would Anwar suddenly be suitable to be PM only after he (Mahathir) has served six months? I’m sorry to say that does not hold for me.
On that score, I think PKR made the correct decision by rejecting Mahathir as the PM candidate for Harapan Plus.
Mahathir has made too many twists and turns, both in words and action, that his credibility and integrity become questionable.
On Shafie being proposed as the PM candidate, I have been wondering why Mahathir never chose Shafie as the Umno candidate to be the Sabah chief minister during the rotation system of the chief minister’s post in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Instead, Mahathir overlooked Shafie and picked Salleh Said Keruak, Osu Sukam and Musa Aman to be chief minister. All three represented Umno when Mahathir was Umno president.
If Shafie was not suitable to be even a state chief minister then, why is he suddenly good enough to be the prime minister now?
Notwithstanding that it was some 20 years ago, an explanation from Mahathir for his decision then would be in order.
I have no intention at all to question Shafie’s credentials or suitability to be prime minister. In fact, as a Sarawakian, I would warmly welcome a neighbour from Sabah to be my prime minister. But I doubt that would materialise in the near future.
It is Mahathir who has a lot of explanation to do with his latest moves, some bordering on ludicrosity and even a semblance of senility.
So, to answer the question: Are Dr M, Shafie still “Kawan tetap kawan” of Harapan?
I don’t think Mahathir is interested in the survival of Harapan or Harapan Plus at all. He has already declared that he was unprepared to work with Anwar from now on.
I say, let the grand old man be and move on, Harapan Plus.
I agree with Anwar’s statement yesterday that Harapan should now refocus on their struggle and fight for the people instead of being distracted by the prime ministerial candidate issue.
I also find Anwar’s veiled swipe at Mahathir worthy of mention as the PKR president has been overly diplomatic and respectful of his former mentor for far too long.
Oh yes, “Harapan cannot act as if we are still exposing our necks and still being dragged here and there, breaking up and fighting and then following his whims on the candidate”.
As for Shafie, there is a better chance of him and his party to be “Kawan tetap kawan” with PKR, DAP and Amanah.
Shafie and Warisan could certainly do with some friends and allies at the federal level, post-Mahathir era.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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