A new coalition to replace PH? Experts at odds

Pakatan Harapan component parties cannot agree on whether Dr Mahathir Mohamad or Anwar Ibrahim should be their prime minister candidate.

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst speculates that a new political coalition may be formed to replace Pakatan Harapan if the component parties cannot resolve the impasse over its candidate for prime minister.

Commenting on DAP’s and Amanah’s appeal for PKR to return to the consensus to back Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the ninth prime minister, Mohd Izani Mohd Zain of Universiti Putra Malaysia said the issue could lead to the breakup of the former ruling coalition.

“In the current context, it’s difficult for the three to work together unless there is tolerance among them,” he said.

Izani said PH could put up a good fight against the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government if it could settle the issue.

The dispute over whether PKR president Anwar Ibrahim or Mahathir should be the prime minister candidate has gone from behind closed doors to disagreements in the open.

Mohd Izani Mohd Zain

DAP and Amanah yesterday urged PKR to back Mahathir as the candidate, saying Anwar might not get majority support in Parliament.

This followed a statement from PKR’s central leadership council that the party would not support Mahathir as the coalition’s choice.

Izani said Mahathir was unlikely to accept any resolution denying him the candidacy “unless he gives in for the greater good”.

But he added that Malaysian politics needed to move on from the Anwar and Mahathir battle. “PH needs to have new leaders who are accepted by everyone.”

Another analyst, Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia, said he did not think PH had reached breaking point, but added that there would be more bickering and a further loss of trust among the coalition parties unless the issue was quickly resolved.

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“You can only have one PM candidate,” he said. “One person has to give way.”

Sivamurugan Pandian

He said a quick resolution would enable the coalition to start plotting its strategy for the next general election.

James Chin of University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said he did not believe PH would break up as the three parties needed the PH platform to show their commitment to multiracial politics.

“Amanah will not survive outside PH,” he said. “While DAP and PKR can survive, the reality is that PH is the platform which allows them to practise multiracial politics since one is Chinese-based and the other Malay-based and Amanah is Islamic-based.

“This is in contrast to PN, which is clearly Malay-centric.”

James Chin

Chin said he believed negotiations would continue and a solution would be found soon.

The main issue, he said, was how PH could enforce a timeline on Mahathir’s tenure if he were to be confirmed as the PM candidate and if PH were to regain power.

He noted a DAP statement that PH would trigger a general election if Mahathir refused to hand power to Anwar at a stipulated time, but said he did not believe it could be enforced.

“Mahathir is partyless and not part of PH, and yet he has such a big impact on the coalition. PH needs him more than he needs it due to his ability to get rural Malay support.”

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