Why Anwar is a bane for the opposition

Former Wanita PKR leader tells why she thinks the opposition chief is not suitable for the post of prime minister or to lead the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Tan Poh Lai, Malaysia Now

Given the groundswell of discontent in the country against Muhyiddin Yassin, one would have thought that the opposition leader would have universal support to replace the unpopular outgoing prime minister. However, this does not appear to be so.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad brought Anwar Ibrahim into Umno, and he bypassed many others to become the deputy prime minister before his sacking in 1998 on charges of sodomy and abuse of power.

PKR was then formed as an avenue for reform. The prospect of a multiracial party was very appealing, and the cry of Reformasi captivated many. The party is the success that it is today due to many members who made great sacrifices for the party. However, Anwar’s style of leadership has deeply divided the party.

When the opposition led by Anwar won Selangor in 2008, Anwar arbitrarily chose a corporate figure from outside the party rank and file, Khalid Ibrahim, to be the menteri besar, causing much discontent within PKR. This was the beginning of deep divisions within the party which continued for many years. This developed and caused PKR to be divided into serious factions, which were an open secret.

However, despite the serious dissatisfaction with his arbitrary leadership, in 2013 Anwar unbelievably, yet again, without prior consultation with his elected party leadership, made Khalid the MB for a second term in 2018. The long-suffering PKR members tried to maintain an appearance of unity despite this second shocking decision, but within a matter of months, it was untenable. It was clear that Khalid had to be replaced. The solution was the Kajang Move.

The original plan was that Anwar would contest in the state seat of Kajang, which would enable him to be the replacement for Khalid as menteri besar. However, the plan fell apart when it became clear that there were many obstacles, and his wife was then chosen as the candidate.

But despite her winning, it appeared unacceptable for her to be the replacement as the menteri besar. The party then faced yet another serious crisis caused by the same arbitrary style of leadership. His poor decisions, made without prior consultation with the party leadership, caused hardship to the party, and members suffered the consequences of these poor decisions.

Without credit to Anwar, thankfully, a solution was found to this embarrassing impasse when Mohamed Azmin Ali was appointed as menteri besar after protracted negotiation.

In the run-up to the general election of 2013, many members sacrificed tremendously from the grassroots to put up credible candidates for the general election. However, in the weeks before nomination day, Anwar replaced many of these potential candidates with his personal choices, which he parachuted in. These eleventh-hour flip-flops caused turmoil. It was believed that many seats could have been won had there not been these last-minute changes of candidates due to his direct personal intervention.

When it came to the GE of 2018, many hoped that history would not repeat itself. Strict guidelines were put in place to ensure that these last-minute flip-flops would not happen again. However, despite these guidelines, in 2018 the worst-case scenario occurred whereby potential candidates working hard on the ground for years were again replaced at the last minute against the same guidelines. It was clear that Anwar did not practise what he preached.

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