Anwar is trying to destroy Bersatu before GE16

Anwar’s Machiavellian side coming out

Murray Hunter

With the popularity of the ‘unity government’ at a low, and the results of the recent state elections strongly indicating Anwar will be a one term prime minister, the destruction of Bersatu, and thus weakening of Perikatan Nasional (PN) might be the only way to obtain a second term.

There is next to zero chance Anwar can make any electoral advances into PAS territory. Thus, the only way to destroy the PN coalition is to destroy the weakest link Bersatu. Bersatu as a party is primarily made up of defectors, who don’t have any strong ideology. Many of Bersatu’s MPs have been astute opportunists who jumped across to Bersatu prior to GE14, when Mahathir came onboard and led Pakatan Harapan to victory against Najib Razak in 2018.

Bersatu itself won 31 seats at the last general election. Together with PAS, PN won 74 seats in GE15. The only way PN can be defeated is by gauging at Bersatu and making the party irrelevant, through politically humiliating Bersatu’s leadership and eroding the seats it has in parliament.

This will weaken the ability of PAS to form any future government immensely, thus paving the way for a Pakatan led coalition to form another government after GE16 and Anwar having a second term as prime minister.

Anwar playing the Machiavellian playbook

The Anwar so called Madani government has none of the virtues and moral claims of being on the high ground that it continually portrays in public. The Anwar government is primarily concerned with keeping in government and holding power. Criticisms from online news portals has been suppressed and bloggers websites blocked illegally. This government has no hesitancy in breaking the law to maintain power.

The Anwar government even went further last by charging Bersatu leader Muhyiddin Yassin over corruption and money laundering charges over Jana Wibana. They also painted Muhyiddin’s son-in-law Muhammad Adlan Berhan as a fugitive. Kedah MB Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor was charged with sedition last July. Bersatu’s information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan’s money laundering charges in regards to Jana Wibawa have just commenced.

These moves, although meeting public approval at the time, were widely criticized for political persecution.

Anwar’s latest attack has been focused on enticing Bersatu MPs to pledge allegiance to the unity government without leaving their party. This circumvents makes a mockery of the anti-hopping laws. So far 5 Bersatu MPs have turned. Over the recent weeks, four Bersatu MPs had switched allegiances to Anwar, namely Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid, Labuan MP Datuk Dr Suhaili Abdul Rahman, Gua Musang MP Mohd Azizi Abu Naim and Jeli MP Zahari Kechik. The latest to crossover was Bukit Gantang MP Syed Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal.

This is deeply embarrassing Bersatu, stressing the relationship between Bersatu and PAS, and quickly giving the impression Bersatu is collapsing. Anwar strongly denies he is coaxing anyone to crossover, but it is obvious that some benefactor is financing these defections. Political strategists are hoping that with enough defections, the critical mass of Bersatu will just disintegrate, taking Bersatu out of the picture next general election.

This will give Pakatan-UMNO a much better chance of taking these Bersatu seats in the next general election. GPS and GRS will be very much inclined to stick with the status quo and Anwar takes a second term over the ‘corpse’ of Bersatu.

What must be remembered is Anwar is an opportunist, not a strategist. The issue of how Pakatan-UMNO can win back the 31 nominal Bersatu seats is another problem. If Anwar doesn’t develop a strategy, then these 31 Bersatu seats could be in-play for anyone to take. If Anwar’s game backfires, then PAS might be able to make massive gains next general election with the opportunity Anwar has created for them. This could potentially take PAS up to 60 seats in the next parliament.

Looking at Anwar’s strategic win-loss record, someone is likely to go wrong with his move.