Will the Mahathir-Anwar partnership work?

Reuters pic

By Mizan Mazlan

A week after carrying Pakatan Harapan across the GE14 finish line, Dr Mahathir Mohamad successfully released his one-time ally, Anwar Ibrahim from prison – though, till today, many strongly believed that it was the devious work of the former that landed the latter in prison in the first place.

I was and still, am not entirely convinced of what exactly Anwar was guilty of, ranging from sexual misconduct to treason and to corruption. The majority would like to believe that Anwar was a prisoner of a political conspiracy to bring him down – as proven by his “timely” arrest during a gloomy economic period for the country back in 1998.

Some even suggested that Anwar’s downfall started in 1993 after he won the Umno Deputy President post, beating the late Ghafar Baba. Anwar, with his charisma and ability to mobilise followers just by the sheer tenacity of his words – was seen as a protégé who rose quickly up the ranks and transformed into a legitimate contender to succeed Mahathir, and it is safe to assume the latter was made known of this and got the former grounded.

As a result, PKR was founded on April 4, 1999 with the logo symbolising Anwar’s black eye, the same logo that Pakatan Harapan used to win the recently concluded elections.

Moral grounds

As Mahathir began to criticise and condemn his once protégé Najib Razak’s administration due to abuses of power and financial scandals in managing the government-owned 1MDB back in 2015, PH saw an opportunity to engage Mahathir into leading the coalition to topple Najib – with both sides making it very clear this is their ultimate goal.

Many will never forget the ugly and damaging events that occurred between Mahathir and the political party he leads now – with profanities and personal attacks being thrown around as we’ve never seen it before.

I fully understand the term “let bygones be bygones” but I only question the moral action and responsibility of these people who arguably has spat directly in the face of the rakyat with their allegiance to a man once they called the “Maha-Firaun” and “Maha-Zalim”.

The deal was simple and straightforward enough; (1) topple Najib Razak, (2) release Anwar from prison with a royal pardon, (3) transfer prime minister’s power to Anwar.

Now that the first two steps have been achieved, what about the third? Mahathir has stated that he will stay on as Malaysia’s seventh prime minister for a year or two – much to the delight of his many followers. Anwar has also stated that he will not rush back into politics as he does not want to be seen to be hasty to demand or insist for the prime minister post – a true act of class and unselfishness.

Kajang 2.0?

In order for Anwar to become Malaysia’s eighth prime minister, he will have to contest and win a parliamentary seat of his own choosing and liking. An easier way would be for one of any PKR MPs to vacate his/her seat to allow him to contest in a by-election (did anyone say Kajang Move 2.0?).

I for one am not a fan of such political strategy that requires an elected representative to resign with just cause to make way for another – I believe that it is a direct betrayal of voters in the constituency just to fulfil an individual’s personal ambition. Also, in my opinion, those who dwell in such acts are merely making fun of our democratic process and it is a direct slap in the voters’ face.

Let the failures of the Kajang Move in 2014 be a lesson to all. Many regard that it was conceived not to address Selangor’s problems but purely to consolidate the power of certain groups.

Now, imagine this same political strategy to occur at the highest end of the country’s government and the dire repercussions of it.

Bapa Permodenan-Bapa Reformasi partnership

The arguments for both sides of the perspective are:

1. For an optimist, Mahathir and Anwar have put “everything” behind them to save the country together.
2. For a pessimist, things will turn sour down the road and plenty of “political backstabbing” will occur as it was before.

All my life, I’ve been taught to look at things positively, no matter how dubious it might sound or appear – but I’ve also been taught to always forgive but never forget, which acts as a personal reminder to me not to get easily carried away with things.

Forgive me if I don’t share the excitement such as the majority are feeling towards the pair just yet. I have my doubts and it is well documented.

As social media raves on the “comeback kings” pairing of Mahathir-Anwar, I hope, and I believe the majority of my fellow Malaysians will agree with me that a justifiable and concrete explanation from Mahathir is required to completely bury the hatchet, as they say.
Malaysians have the right to know the truth, even if its coupled with a political backlash.

The worrying thought of these two turning on each other still lingers in the minds of the politically aware citizens.

The same cannot be said about those who are painting a beautiful picture of these two, as the saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Only time will tell if this partnership will retain its early glory days or will it go down the drains again like what happened in 1998. The former seems more preferred and ideal.

With that, all the best to both prominent leaders of our time. God knows how much Malaysia needs you to be at your best.

Mizan Mazlan is an analyst with the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli).

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.