Last year, Malaysia saw a spike in political manoeuvres akin to a “game of thrones”. The country watched the Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali challenge his party leader, Anwar Ibrahim for the Prime Minister’s post.
It soured their relationship. Some say it was to the point of no return and may dampen Anwar’s chance to become the eighth PM of Malaysia. For Anwar, 2019 was a shocker. To see his long-time friend and collaborator going against him was difficult.
The shock waves started with reports of Azmin rallying 20 MPs to jump ship from Anwar’s party to the Bersatu. Anwar’s party is the Parti Keadilan Rakyat or PKR and the Bersatu is Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s party. Then there was the gay-sex video scandal that came after the holy month of Ramadan.
PKR member, Haziq Abdullah Abdul Aziz, made bold accusations against Azmin saying the powerful minister is in the video.
He said he is the other actor in the short viral videos. It wasn’t over for Anwar. The party split into two factions, one supporting him and the other Azmin.
The pressure was on Anwar to prove his mettle as a strong leader. He chose the party’s congress to make some political moves to save the party from breaking point.
The Azmin faction made a push against the idea of Anwar as the eighth PM, criticising members and delegates for shouting the ‘Anwar for PM’ slogan. Heckled and booed they stood their ground firmly saying the party isn’t for one man to gain power.
A day before the congress, Anwar met with Azmin, sealing a deal with the latter. The deal was to get Azmin’s group to forfeit from holding their own ‘congress’ and to join the party’s machinery instead. They complied, but they didn’t expect the backlash from the thousand delegates.
However, they believed the Anwar camp had betrayed them and they made a stand during a dinner at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
The Minister of Housing and Local Government, Zuraidah Kamaruddin pointed a finger at Anwar on a sexual assault case made by one Yusuf Rauther. Azmin is rallying his troops to pressure the PKR leadership to abandon all disciplinary measures against Zuraidah Kamaruddin. The fiery lady is Azmin’s ally.
This got her in trouble with the party’s disciplinary board but Azmin is asking the board to drop the charges. While the party is still at boiling point, the Prime Minister has agreed that the Pakatan Harapan coalition presidential council is to decide on his departure date.
But the most incredible element in all of this is that the party is still intact. This is a short-lived victory for Anwar because the Islamists from the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia or PAS gave the media a scoop.
They published a picture of Dr Mahathir having breakfast with their leader, Abdul Hadi Awang at the PM’s residence. This became the talk of the town and goes to show that in politics, a week can be a long time.
PAS revealed that Dr Mahathir invited them to join the Pakatan coalition. Dr Mahathir made no attempt to deny the statement from the PAS. But Anwar knows it is a tough call for the PAS to join the PH. PKR, Amanah and DAP may stand in the way.
PAS and the Umno are having a magnificent ride in the by-elections, with one win after another, defeating Dr Mahathir’s coalition in a humiliating manner. Sources say PAS is Azmin’s ally and are against Anwar taking over as the next PM of Malaysia. The Harakah, the tabloid belonging to PAS says Dr Mahathir is a better Muslim than Anwar.
If this is the reason they had breakfast with Dr Mahathir on January 20, Anwar might still be in trouble. Allied to Anwar in the 2008 and 2013 elections PAS is hell-bent on stopping him in his move to become Prime Minister.
But the question is why would PAS be so afraid of Anwar becoming the next PM of Malaysia?