Pakatan Harapan still popular, says Dr M

Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks to Anwar Ibrahim at a press conference after Pakatan Harapan’s Presidential Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad is confident that Pakatan Harapan remains popular despite several statements predicting doom for the year-old ruling coalition.

“We are confident. There are some who say we will lose if we have an election today. We can win because nobody wants Najib (Razak),” the PH chairman said after meeting the coalition’s top leaders today.

Yesterday, the prime minister, who is also PPBM chairman, expressed regret over a statement by a senior member of his party who said the PH coalition could be staring at defeat at the next general election.

Mahathir also took a veiled jibe at Rais Hussin, PPBM’s policy and strategy chief, who made the remarks, adding that such views amounted to tarnishing the party’s image and could be subject to disciplinary action.

The 94-year-old also blamed the press for focussing on controversial matters instead of the government’s success stories.

“There are many accusations that the PH coalition is no longer well-liked by the public.”

Mahathir said the PH leaders had a long discussion after some said PH would lose any election if held now.

“We found out that we did not do anything wrong.”

But due to poor communications, “even though we spoke to the press about our successes, the press asked us controversial questions”.

He appealed to the media not to play up racial and religious issues and “if you want, report the truth”.

If this was not done, he cautioned that it will be difficult to erase conflict among the different races and religions.

When asked whether he would curb media freedom, Mahathir said the government will not do so.

“(Do I say) all get out. Get out. (Unlike Najib) I don’t run away,” he said in jest. Najib had avoided press conferences after the 1MDB scandal was widely reported in 2015.

He said from today’s discussions, it was obvious that the government was not attending to racial or religious issues.

He said due to that, they will have more media engagements to promote peace and harmony among the people.

Mahathir also criticised extremist groups for causing a racial and religious divide. Due to that, “small issues become big and cause disunity”, he said.

Despite many countries going to war and living in disharmony, he said these extremist groups do not appreciate the peace and harmony enjoyed in Malaysia.

“If we allow ourselves to be divided by these extremists, do we want to be like the Middle East where, despite being of the same race, they end up fighting?”