Anwar continues to destabilise Harapan

“To a question on what was going through his mind when watching Mahathir’s oath-taking ceremony following Pakatan Harapan’s general election victory, Anwar replied: “You want me to be honest or politically correct? Politically correct, of course, I rejoiced, everybody was so elated.” – Anwar Ibrahim

S. Thayaparan, Malaysiakini

Anwar Ibrahim is at it again. At his most recent presser, he again attempts to push the narrative that he has the numbers – “adequate” – this time, to topple the Perikatan Nasional regime. Why have these silly pressers in the first place?

If you are not going to have a full-court press with all your supposed allies, then the only reason to have these types of pressers is to spook the ruling government.

The problem is that the ruling government is not spooked. They are so used to seeing Harapan with eggs on their faces that events like these just play into their narratives that Anwar Ibrahim will do and say anything to be prime minister.

The fact that various factotum in Harapan and not the big guns have come out to oppose such a move further feeds into the narrative that Harapan is fractured when the reality is that Anwar’s quest for power by aligning with untrustworthy corrupt political operatives is causing disunity in the ranks.

Furthermore, coalitions – grand or otherwise – are not needed to topple the PN regime. There is no need for “cooperation” between any parties. All that is needed are MPs – no matter from which political party – to declare if they support the current prime minister or not.

Keep in mind what the prime minister said on the campaign stump in the Sabah state election: “The Bersatu president added that should he no longer qualify to be the prime minister, he has two options – to step down or recommend that the Agong dissolves Parliament.”

Hence all this subterfuge and political games between political operatives are not to “save Malaysia” but to save their own behinds, and in some cases, from legal proceedings. Do not for one second believe that they do not want another general election because of this pandemic.

They do not want another GE because they are afraid to roll the dice. They are afraid because political infighting in their parties could destroy the hegemonic status quo.

They are afraid that if the rakyat is angry enough, this could result in a political reconfiguration that would mean that the establishment would have to compromise to remain in control. In other words, the kind of bipartisanship that is unheard of here in Malaysia.

All these types of pressers do is to remind people how incompetent and disorganised Harapan is, that the main political agenda of the party seems to be making Anwar Ibrahim prime minister by any means necessary.

The fact that we have Harapan component parties issuing public statements that they would not work with Umno or work with kleptocrats and claiming ignorance of what Anwar is doing behind closed doors should tell us something about the cohesion of Harapan.

Unlucky with numbers

The issue with Anwar – and I say this as someone who has publicly advocated for his chance at the hot seat in Putrajaya – is not his “don’t spook the Malays” agenda or his waffling when he comes to committing to his supposed race-neutral agenda or even his stance on religion, all of which neatly fall into mainstream Malay realpolitik.

The issue with Anwar is that he cannot even control his own party, and more damaging, his own coalition. Now, if you are a Harapan supporter who is willing to make compromises to end this PN or whatever it is called nonsense, then this should be the most troubling issue that Harapan faces.

Remember when Anthony Loke said, “you have to ask Anwar if he has the numbers”, the last time Anwar pulled this stunt? Or how about the time when Anwar and PKR openly disagreed with Anthony Loke and Khalid Samad about the “options” for the prime minister posts that played out in the press?

What can you say? Anwar Ibrahim has always been unlucky with numbers. Be that as it may, I have no doubt that he has Umno potentates whispering sweet nothings in his ear. As reported by Nikkei Asia, “Our president (Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) is very cautious in making sure that he can secure his political future, and Anwar can be a saviour.”

Of course, the official position is that Umno will not work with PKR and DAP and of course “sources” will claim that there have been no talks of cooperation but all this is part of the sandiwara to keep people guessing and cause more political instability in this country. The only person who seems to want to work with Umno is Anwar and meanwhile, Umno gets to play coy and make it look like the Myuhiddin refuseniks do not represent the party.

Every time Anwar does something like this and nothing materialises, he does PN’s work of damaging Harapan and strengthening certain factions within Umno who wish to work with the PN government. Anwar has been justifiably cagey about the numbers, but the problem here is that Anwar, for whatever reason, has never been able to control the coalitions he has been in.

Sure, his allies fell under the spell of the old maverick, but Azmin’s Ali betrayal is on him. If Anwar could not even exert control over his own party, how in God’s name is he going to control a coalition made up of political operatives, most likely from Umno, who have no loyalty beyond serving the unstable Malay political establishment?

And it is just so obscene. So what if Anwar manages to scrounge up the required number of Muhyiddin refuseniks to topple the current prime minister? What we would be left with is another unstable coalition whose primary partners have demonstrated that they are willing to sell anyone down the river to further their personal agendas and to use race and religion as a means to further those agendas.

This has never been about saving Malaysia; this is about attempting to seize power without the mandate of the people. These cretins do not want to roll the dice and instead use the pandemic or “emergency” to bypass elections.

If Anwar and Harapan formed coalitions – even with the strangest of bedfellows – after an election, this would be a legitimate democratic practice.

At the moment, it is purely about traitors, knaves and kleptocrats trying to save their behinds and one man, Anwar Ibrahim, who naively thinks that he could be PM with their support.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he hopes young people will assume the mantle of leadership if there is to be any hope for this country.