And once again, Pakatan Harapan is torn apart in the question that plagued their 22 month rule of Malaysia.
Since winning the last general election and the release of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from prison, the question of when the PKR president will take over the premiership of the country.
Unfortunately, that question continued to plague the alliance. While earlier promises was for Tun Mahathir Mohamed to run the country for a year, it quickly became two years. Continuous prodding by Anwar’s supporters led to a confrontation that led to the government collapsing after Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) left the ruling coalition.
Since the collapse and the appointment of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, Pakatan has continued to insist on having enough support to topple the current government through a motion of no confidence.
However, the question still arises – who will be the prime minister?
Once again, Malaysians are thrown into the turmoil as two old rivals continue to go against one another, since 1998. And once again, Mahathir has the upper hand with the support of Sabahan party Warisan, which rejects Anwar from becoming prime minister.
Without PKR, you won’t rule
Similarly, PKR’s old allies of Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) have both also allied themselves to name Mahathir as their choice of prime minister for Pakatan Harapan, with the deal that the old man will serve his third term for a period of only six month.
This has fallen foul on PKR, which faults Mahathir and his party for the collapse of the first Pakatan government, leading them to question where is the loyalty of their allies. It has also led one elected representative calling for both DAP and Amanah to be kicked out from the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
With PKR insisting on not supporting any other consensus other than the appointment of Anwar as prime minister, Pakatan will not have enough MPs for a no-confidence vote in parliament to take back government.
At the same time, word is that Muhyiddin is gearing up for a snap election reported to be planned for March 2021. However, rumour is that it could be as soon as January, or even right during the Chinese New Year holiday period in February.
DAP under internal threat
While prepping for a snap poll in 2021, DAP also has its internal elections for its Central Executive Committee (CEC) which was scheduled this year. However, this has been put on hold.
Word is that this is due to concern that there is a faction within the party that wants to hold its leaders accountable for the collapse of the Pakatan government, for trusting Mahathir.
If this is true, then it is a gamble for the largest opposition party to hold up Mahathir once again in some belief of the former prime minister should have some time to set things right, even if he had 22 months and did nothing of the sort.
Pulling off a no-confidence vote and forming a Pakatan government yet again would keep them in the good books of their supporters, but will it be enough to turn the tide of an internal landslide by their own party members?
That is perhaps what they are banking on right now.
No-confidence and a snap poll
One question that arises over and over again, is whether or not the King would allow for yet another change of government by a no-confidence motion.
Or, will the King call for snap elections and the dissolution of parliament altogether after the shenanigans that the palace had to go through throughout the last year?
To answer this, Johor is a prime example of how even royalty is tiring of politics. Since the last switch of the state government, there was word of yet another change of majority in the Peninsular’s most southern state.
However, upon hearing the rumour, the Sultan of Johor immediately issued a statement that any more change in government will lead to a state wide snap election. This in turn, according to one PKR leader, stopped Pakatan from retaking the state.
Could this be a reflection of the mindset of the King as well as the Council of Rulers? If so, there is a risk that a Pakatan vote of no-confidence will immediately dissolve parliament and lead to an election within 3 months.
Snap elections – who will win and lose
The biggest loser of a snap election will be PPBM – there is no doubt about that. With the party vying for support from the Malays which are already held by UMNO or PAS, it is in dire straits to offer themselves as a party of the same calibre to the Malays.
At the same time, they can no longer expect any support from the non-Malays. This was obvious even before – when they were part of Pakatan Harapan, it saw them constantly losing by-elections due to the loss of support from the non-Malays.
This is particularly due to multiple issues, including the Jawi teaching in schools, not recognising the UEC, the U-turn on ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) – even the flying car project and the third national car project did not help them gain support.
At the same time, the fallout from PKR’s defections due to the leaving of Azmin and his company, will also see further fallout that will further weaken the party from the inside.
This will leave the DAP as the strongest party within Pakatan Harapan.
At the same time, Muafakat Nasional – the teaming up of PAS and Barisan Nasional, will win them support and end the 3-way fight seen in 2018. As such, they will come out stronger for it.
While some Malaysians are looking for a third choice, they will still not turn to Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) due to the distrust of left wing political parties which still exists.
At the same time, PSM is not seen as an alternative choice for most Malaysians, primarily for their lack of penetration in social media, and also mainstream media. Furthermore, their leftist leanings have also stopped their ability for fundraising from business elites and corporate donations, something that Pakatan and Perikatan have managed to secure.
A snap poll in February or March will see Muafakat leading the poll due to the ability to put together most of the Malay vote in the conservative and rural areas. At the same time, disbelief in Pakatan being able to cater to the Malay agenda will lead to it losing the past Malay support it had.
This, sadly, is the one kernel of truth that Mahathir has said in the last few days – Pakatan needs a Malay party, and PAN has no such pull.
Could young leaders turn the tide?
If Mahathir and Anwar cannot bury their hatchet, could the next generation of leaders named to become PM pique the interest of the youth vote?
Could bringing the likes of Nurul Izzah, Rafizi Ramli, and other young leaders to the fore, turn the tide and allow Pakatan to win the snap polls?
It is a question that should be considered seriously, which will see the lagging interest in the two old men still vying against one another to become PM die naturally and allow Pakatan to market itself as the choice for the younger generation.
With the Undi-18 initiative slated to come into force next year, as well as the registration of more young voters, the choice for a comparatively younger PM will allow the unification of the race vote into one entity – the youth vote.
This will allow Pakatan then to cater to youth issues, younger issues, no longer looking at issues beyond the issue of race and religion, but more to cost of living, jobs and the economy.
To such an end, it needs to be said – Mahathir and Anwar’s time should have ended a long time ago. Both of them should put their wants for power to be put aside, and given way to the next generation of both dynasties.