Pakatan Harapan will get it right this time: Anwar

(Malaysiakini) – Back in 2018, the Pakatan Harapan coalition unveiled its ambitious 138-page election manifesto, which sought to tackle the rising cost of living, address demands made by various communities and reduce the powers of the prime minister, among others.

However, prior to the Harapan government’s collapse in 2020 after a 22-month tenure, then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad admitted that the coalition over-promised in its manifesto as they did not expect to win the 14th general election.

Now gearing for the 15th general election (GE15), opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim pledged a more carefully curated manifesto.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini, the PKR president said his plan was to only give clear commitments on issues that the coalition is able to deliver should it capture Putrajaya again.

“Unfortunately, the (previous) manifesto did become quite an issue… but my position is to give clear commitments on issues that we are able to deliver.

“Don’t make too many promises. I will do my best to ensure good governance. I can’t promise the sky, and I think that is honest,” he said.

On a personal level, Anwar said he had been preparing a script for Harapan’s manifesto through engagements with scholars and inputs from allies. The script, he said, included notes from his time in prison.

Anwar acknowledged some weaknesses in Harapan but stressed at the end of the day, it was committed to working to save the nation.

“Parties and civil societies, everyone has their own agenda. We have to accommodate. But as a nation, they cannot expect us to accept every single demand of a certain group.

“We must at least agree on core issues of sustainability, governance, which includes judicial independence and also anti-corruption,” he said.

The former deputy prime minister said there was prevalent cynicism and negativity amongst the rakyat but the present government was not addressing these issues.

“We now have leaders (who are) in a complete state of denial.

“The finance minister (Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz) stated that the declining ringgit is not an issue or concern. It’s absurd!

“I don’t know how he became a banker in the first place if this is the view he expressed, and is tolerated,” Anwar said.

‘God save the rakyat’

Anwar maintained that Harapan and himself have been consistent in their integrity and values.

Citing an example, he revealed back in June that he had the support of 120 MPs, including 15 from Umno, to become prime minister in 2020.

But the number was reduced after he declined to meddle in former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s court cases.

Harapan held onto the principle that it would never accept statutory declarations (SD) from Najib and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who were among the 15 Umno MPs throwing their support for Anwar.

“So, many of you owe me an apology. People were making fun of me (for claiming I had the majority), even my colleagues and friends in the (Harapan) coalition.

“This was not a secret to party leaders, but we couldn’t say it publicly.

“I said to the king, if they (Umno) can manipulate and renege on their commitment after giving SDs to you, Your Highness, then God save the rakyat.”