MUHYIDDIN NOT THE CHOSEN ONE
PKR sticks with Anwar, pours cold water on Dr M’s choice
SYED UMAR ARIFF AND ARFA YUNUS SHAH ALAM email@example.com
TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad was dealt a big blow when PKR unanimously called for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be made prime minister-designate.
It was also effectively a snub to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The call was made during a gimmick at PKR’s 12th national congress here, when Pakatan Harapan leaders onstage, including DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, stood and held placards that read “Anwar as the 7th PM” if Pakatan Harapan wins in the 14th General Election.
However, the two top PPBM leaders stuck out like sore thumbs when they did not raise the placards before a crowd of PKR delegates.
PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir and party president Muhyiddin did not raise the placards, leading to PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali looking awkwardly at both men.
In what was described by observers as a “subtle opposition” against the call, Dr Mahathir instead held up his mobile phone to take pictures, while Muhyiddin only opted to provide an applause. However, Dr Mahathir later signed a petition calling for Anwar’s release from prison.
Dr Mahathir refused to comment on why he did not hold up the placard, but dismissed suggestions that past enmity between him and Anwar was the reason.
Dr Mahathir said he was not the one who sent Anwar to jail this time around, and shifted the blame to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“This is PKR’s congress. It’s not me who put him (Anwar) in jail, that’s an old story. (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib Razak is the one who put him in,” he said.
Pressed further on his choice of prime minister, Dr Mahathir said: “that’s up to everyone”.
As he was about to depart, Dr Mahathir only responded with a smile and a slight nod when journalists asked if he too agreed with the call to have Anwar as the prime minister candidate.
Last year, the former premier called for Muhyiddin to be the prime minister if the opposition won the next election.
Dr Mahathir — who now serves as a special adviser to Pakatan Harapan’s pro-tem committee — had said the opposition would collectively decide on who becomes the next prime minister if it wins the election.
Later during a winding up speech, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli apparently landed a subtle jab against PPBM, by excluding the fledgling party from the roster of Pakatan Harapan members that had accepted Anwar as candidate for the top office.
“Our prime minister (candidate) is Anwar and our friend in DAP and PAN (Parti Amanah Negara) have agreed that Dr Wan Azizah will be the interim prime minister.
“Anwar will be named as our prime minister after he receives the Royal pardon,” he said.
Anwar is currently serving a five-year sentence for sodomising his former aide and is due for release in 2020.
In Kota Baru, Pas expressed its nonchalance over PKR’s choice of prime minister candidate, and said anyone was entitled to throw a name in the hat.
Pas vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said although Pas and PKR were no longer in a pact, the Islamic party had always believed party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was the best man for the job.
“We (Pas) don’t have a relationship with PKR anymore, so it is their right to do whatever they want.”
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (right) and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (second from right) holding up placards that read ‘Anwar PM ke-7’, while Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (third from right) is holding up his handphone at PKR’s 12th national congress in Shah Alam yesterday. Also present are DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang (fourth from left) and PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (left, applauding).