Pakatan Harapan collapsed because Mahathir refused to back Anwar, says analyst

It is clear that Dr Mahathir Mohamad still maintains the same position since 1998 about not wanting Anwar Ibrahim to become prime minister, says analyst Oh Ei Sun.

(FMT) – Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s refusal to support PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is the main reason why Pakatan Harapan (PH) is fractured, says a political analyst.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said Mahathir’s refusal to back Anwar and hand over power as agreed had essentially split the coalition, something it has yet to recover from.

He was commenting on Pejuang president Mukhriz Mahathir’s remarks that Anwar, the PH chairman, had not done enough to unite opposition parties.

Oh said while he did not think Mukhriz was wrong in his assessment, he and his father were also to blame for their shortcomings as leaders in PH when it was the ruling government.

“If they had given their backing to Anwar, the Sheraton Move, which ultimately led to PH’s downfall, would not have happened.

“It is mainly due to both father and son refusing to back Anwar, that we now have this fractured political landscape,” he said.

According to Oh, it was clear that Mahathir had maintained the same position since 1998 about not wanting Anwar to become the prime minister.

“This is still evident despite their mutually beneficial cooperation that led to PH’s victory in the 2018 general election (GE14),” he said.

He added, however, that Anwar too may be past his prime and cannot inspire or command the same kind of support as he did before.

“Moving forward, one obvious but difficult solution for PH to consider would be to replace Anwar,” Oh said.

“But there is no one else in PH at the moment who can bring the coalition back to the top.”

Azmi Hassan of the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research believes PH needs a “cause” that can bring about the pre-GE14 atmosphere.

“The problem is the opposition does not have any issues to champion right now, especially when it comes to targeting Barisan Nasional (BN).”

He said the 1MDB scandal and corruption cases brought the opposition parties together under the PH umbrella before GE14. However, these issues no longer resonate with the masses.

Azmi said PH needs a common cause or issue that can bind the component parties together.