Is Anwar being too hasty?

Analysts concur PKR chief should have waited to prove he has the numbers to take over Putrajaya

(Sun Daily) – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may have been overly hasty in announcing what he claims is the impending fall of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

Many feel that he should have waited for just a day or two, prove that he has the support he now claims and then get sworn in as the ninth prime minister.

If he gets the right support he will helm the government, but if it does not materialise, his integrity will not remain intact. As it is, it’s political suicide, according to analysts theSun spoke to yesterday.

When making his announcement yesterday, the PKR president said he had been granted an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billal Shah on Tuesday, but the appointment had to be postponed because the King was admitted to the National Heart Institute.

As analyst Prof Dr Azizuddin Mohd Sani sees it, the Sabah election could have been the factor that forced Anwar to act too soon.

“There is a tendency for Sabahans to vote for a party that has a firm grip on the federal administration. If Anwar gets his prize, it could work in favour of ally Warisan Plus.”

Prof Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak went a step further to say that Anwar should be “condemned” if his claims are untrue.

“He is well aware of the implications. This is not a trivial matter or a child’s game. It has everything to do with his own integrity.”

“Couldn’t he have waited and done it properly?”

He pointed out that Anwar would need the support of a number of parties to pull this off. “He will not only need the support of Umno but also that of parties in Sabah and Sarawak.

“But then again, he could be just ‘testing the waters’,” Jeniri added.

Branding it as a “stupid” move, he said other MPs would not be enticed to join Anwar.

Another analyst, Dr Asri Salleh, believes Anwar’s statement could stir panic among Malaysians, especially in these uncertain times.

“He should have waited. This is unnecessary … stirring another round of panic among the people at a time when a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is imminent.”

As it is, Asri said, the country does not need a new government now.

“The current government is doing really well. There is no need for a new one. It will ultimately be a waste of time and resources.”

Asri believes that Anwar’s allegations of incompetence of the Muhyiddin government could have a bearing on the Sabah polls on Saturday.

“We can expect some form of retaliation. People may choose to boycott the state election altogether due to a combination of political fatigue and fear of Covid-19.”

There has been a flare-up in Covid-19 infections in Sabah over the past few weeks, with seven clusters at the last count.

A history of unsuccessful power grabs

The job that PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has coveted for decades may yet be within his grasp, if his latest claim that he has the numbers comes through.

But it will not be the first time he has made such a claim. The previous one was in September 2008 when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister.

While he insisted that he would be sworn in as the new prime minister on Malaysia Day that year, he never revealed how many MPs would cross the floor to give him the necessary support to topple Abdullah’s government.

It was not a good time for Abdullah. In the general election just six months earlier, he had lost the two-thirds majority that Barisan Nasional (BN) had been so accustomed to.

Political tension was high after the government had a political blogger, a journalist and an opposition politician arrested under the Internal Security Act.

At that time, the Opposition led by Anwar had 82 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, still 30 short of the number to make a simple majority.

Had he succeeded, it would have been a remarkable comeback. Anwar had been the anointed successor to long-serving prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad until they fell out and Anwar was sacked, subsequently convicted of sodomy and jailed in 1998.

Fast forward to the 2018 general election. This time, Anwar and Mahathir were a team. Their coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH) unseated BN which was then led by Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

According to Anwar, a deal was struck among the parties in PH that entailed Mahathir handing over power to him within two years. However, the PH government fell before that timeline was up.