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Who's shadow PM?

  • The absence of a strong leader as shadow PM along with PPBM's singular goal orientation constitute the Achilles' heel in the opposition pact's quest for Putrajaya.

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

I have to admit that I admire Mahathir's ability to stay completely calm under the most embarrassing circumstances.

Like in last week's PKR assembly, where Mahathir and other Pakatan Harapan leaders were seated on the stage. Just as the leaders suddenly held up placards in support of Anwar Ibrahim as the country's 7th prime minister, Mahathir was once again put under a harsh test right at the very moment.

All the leaders on the stage held up the placards, including DAP's Lim Kit Siang and Amanah's Mat Sabu, with the only exception of Mahathir and Muhyiddin Yassin.

That was PKR's event, and sure enough the party would want to make use of it to express its stand which it hoped could be approved by all other Pakatan leaders as well.

Anyone under similar circumstances should feel the peer pressure building up.

When placards were raised, Mahathir was seen taking out his mobile photo to capture the scene, a move maneuvered to camouflage his embarrassment.

Also not holding up the placard, Muhyiddin nevertheless lacked Mahathir's responsiveness, standing expressionless and clapping.

The duo's reactions obviously irked the PKR members down there as they started to murmur their frustration.

For Anwar, Mahathir has made compromises: holding out his hand to his former deputy-turned-opponent, signing the petition to call for his release, among others -- things most inconceivable in the past. Do bear in mind that one of the reasons Mahathir wanted Abdullah out was Anwar's release during Abdullah's term.

But now, he is signing the petition to call for Anwar's release. With that, is there still anything else the former strongman wouldn't bend?

Probably only one: He can't accept Anwar as the prime minister, which is his bottomline, and which explains why he did not hold up his placard.

As for Muhyiddin, he had an unforgettable weekend, and the PKR assembly has left behind a big question: Who's going to be the shadow PM?

Pakatan's choice of PM is a question the alliance must come to terms with, one that is nevertheless extremely tacky.

To win the trust of voters, Pakatan as a political coalition must have a complete team, including its choice of PM, to show the voters it indeed has the ability to take the place of BN to form the new government.

This is particularly relevant to the majority Malays who won't vote for the opposition just because they don't like BN.

If they were to vote for Pakatan, they have to make sure, first and foremost, that it would protect the rights of the Malays, and Pakatan's shadow PM must be the one they can fully trust to do so.

They want to be sure that Pakatan's choice of PM will not be controlled by DAP, thus hurting the privileges of the Malays.

Which, indeed, is not very fair to DAP, but this is the political reality of this country, that the Malay society cannot brush aside their skepticism towards the predominantly Chinese party.

With PAS now going solo, the Malays need a truly powerful Malay shadow PM to justify their support for the opposition pact.

Anwar used to be their one and only option, still very much so for PKR even after he lost his freedom. DAP and Amanah have to show their support too out of objective considerations.

But, that does not mean the formula also conforms to the interests and goals of Mahathir's PPBM.

PPBM's raison d'être has been to bring down Najib and put Muhyiddin in his place. Mission completed.

Lest we forget, PPBM's hit target is Najib, not Umno, and the party can theoretically work with anyone -- Pakatan Harapan, PAS, or even Umno -- so long as Najib is toppled. In the first place, PPBM was set up because Mahathir and Muhyiddin failed to take out Najib through Umno!

PPBM is well aware that it cannot become the biggest opposition party, but hopes to leverage on the delicate situation to form a "balance of terror" in a bid to take control of the big picture.

At least both Mahathir and Muhyiddin still believe they are well loved by the Malay society, and that Muhyiddin makes a good choice for PM.

Such an idea forms the basis of PPBM's strategy and because of that there is no way the party should endorse the choice of Anwar Ibrahim as the shadow PM.

The absence of a strong leader as shadow PM along with PPBM's singular goal orientation constitute the Achilles' heel in the opposition pact's quest for Putrajaya.

 

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