PETALING JAYA: A political analyst warns that DAP’s support for Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) candidate for prime minister again could put a dent in its grassroots backing, as cracks in the coalition widen amid disputes over its nominee for the country’s top post.
Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said DAP’s call for PKR to agree on Mahathir as PH’s candidate instead of Anwar Ibrahim might not sit well with its supporters.
He said DAP’s rejection of Anwar, who leads the multiracial PKR, and support for Mahathir, the former chairman of PPBM, could push Chinese voters to PKR.
“DAP should be working with PKR, its long-time ally, to build a strong opposition rather than Mahathir,” he told FMT, adding however that this might make it difficult for PKR to win the support of the Malays.
Still, he said, the Malays might also find it hard to accept Mahathir as prime minister again as he had resigned from the post in February against the wishes of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“DAP is not considering this sensitivity,” he said. “The party should be focused on changing its image so that it is accepted by the Malays.”
He also spoke of reservations on social media about Mahathir’s return to helm the country for the third time.
“DAP supporters are more inclined to a vision of a multiracial Malaysia, and this is something people associate more with Anwar than with Mahathir, who is a Malay nationalist,” he said.
“At the same time, people will ask why DAP wants Mahathir to become prime minister again so badly, as if there are no other options.”
Malaysiakini previously reported DAP’s organising secretary Loke Siew Fook urging PKR to support Mahathir as the coalition’s prime ministerial candidate as the other PH components had agreed to it.
However, Awang Azman said PKR should stand its ground as PH would not have been able to capture Putrajaya without its support and Anwar’s acceptance of Mahathir as an ally before the 2018 general election.
“Without PKR and the MPs aligned with Anwar, it would be quite difficult for PH-Plus to form the government,” he said, referring to the remaining parties in PH, its Sabah-based ally Warisan and the four MPs who lost their PPBM memberships along with Mahathir.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Azmi Hassan said PKR appeared to be alone now in wanting Anwar as prime minister.
He agreed that the coalition would not survive without PKR but said the party in turn could not go it alone.
“The only way to save PH for the next general election is for PKR to be part of the coalition,” he said, adding however that Anwar could issue PH an ultimatum to either accept him as its candidate for prime minister or do without his party’s support in its efforts to oust Perikatan Nasional from Putrajaya.
Azmi said PKR’s unwillingness to accept Mahathir as prime minister again, even for six months, was understandable given the veteran statesman’s reluctance to hand over the reins to Anwar while PH was still in power.
“But the reality is that for Anwar, his best chance of becoming prime minister is still through PH.”
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