Parti Keadilaan Rakyat, the party of Anwar Ibrahim the prime-minister-in-waiting remains the main thrust for reform in Malaysia, followed by the Democratic Action Party headed by Lim Kit Siang.
This is despite the fact the DAP has been around for longer than the PKR, a party created 20 years ago.
The reason is simply because the DAP does not have a Malay following, whereas PKR has stronger Malay support.
But it’s the PKR and the DAP that represent the reformist movement in Malaysia, but the question is where does Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s Bersatu party stand on reforms?
Bersatu is taking in numerous ex-UMNO members and MP’s, thus strengthening its arithmetical importance in the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
Bersatu, before the admission of ex-Umno MP’s, was the smallest party in the Pakatan coalition and this made Dr Mahathir the most vulnerable PM in Malaysian history.
He commands a majority in Parliament thanks to the support of bigger PH parties and this is based on a deal that he cannot and should not rescind upon. But in politics, anything is possible.
Nevertheless, the PKR is the main Malay component in the Pakatan Harapan coalition, this, too, despite the fact the Bersatu of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is accepting ‘frogs’ from the defeated Umno.
Yet, this move by Dr Mahathir is seen as a betrayal of the ‘reformasi’ agenda in Malaysia.
According to sources, it may also cost Bersatu the Semenyih seat, which is up for grabs in the March 2 by-election in which Dr Mahathir’s party will face a unified opposition with the grassroots of Islamist party PAS likely to support the Umno candidate.
However, the PAS leadership – in a surprise move – announced it might not support the Umno in the Semenyih poll, and that it will support Dr Mahathir in the event of a ‘motion of no confidence’ against the latter.
Bersatu will also face the Parti Socialist Malaysia in this fight, but at stake is the ‘reform’ agenda and the ‘promises’ made by the Pakatan Harapan during the May election campaign last year.
With Bersatu taking in ‘rejects’ (as they are called by other Pakatan component parties), the move is seen as a step taken by Dr Mahathir’s party to stall or halt Anwar Ibrahim’s accession as the next PM.
Though the party may deny rumors that it is plotting against Anwar and the fact that Dr Mahathir is saying he will resign by next year, Bersatu supporters are pressing for a game changer: a bigger Bersatu in Parliament to keep Dr M as PM until next year and above.
To make matters worst for Anwar and for the reform agenda, PAS leaders and MP’s have signed a petition offering support to Dr Mahathir as PM until the next General Elections, in five years time.
With Bersatu’s 20 MP’s and PAS 18 MP’s, Dr Mahathir can barely remain PM if there is a motion of no confidence against him, particularly if the motion comes from the PKR and other PH component parties. It is unlikely Dr M will get other Umno MP’s support in that case.
Clearly, the PAS is playing a game that will halt the reform agenda of the PH. They are playing ‘Malay’ politics, says a Malaysiakini columnist.
In an opinion piece by S. Thayaparan published on Monday 18, February, the latter says the latest meeting of Dr Mahathir with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is typical ‘Malay’ politics, all smoke and mirrors.
He says Dr Mahathir is playing the psywar game, by claiming that PAS will not support BN in this by-election, but the Pakatan component parties are furious with the leapfrogging happening right under their noses.
The DAP is inflamed by the 7 Umno MP’s joining Bersatu, saying it is a betrayal of the reformasi agenda agreed by the PH component parties.
Rafizi Ramli, a prominent figure within the PKR believes the ‘frogging’ MP’s are trash.
On the other hand, the leapfrogging puts into question the real ‘reform’ agenda of the PH regime.
Amidst the confusion, Dr Mahathir is saying this is an important step for the PH to gain a much-needed two third majority to vote crucial laws that would help tighten the grip against corruption and kleptocracy from Malaysia’s ruling class.
Among the laws Dr Mahathir wants to push in his agenda are those that will bring the necessary reforms to see that no one is above the law, not even the Sultan’s or Ministers and party leaders, or party members.
There is also talk about limiting the PM’s and Chief Minister’s tenure. These amendments would need adjustments to Malaysia’s Federal Constitution.
The PH may not get the support of Umno or of the Islamist party members to amend the Constitution. The Umno do not need such amendments to pass, as they benefited from the current state of affairs while in power.
PAS does not want such amendments, as they are themselves facing corruption charges and perhaps in getting closer to Dr M, they hope for leniency.
Thus the defection of opposition members is expected to boost the current government’s quantum of MP’s in Parliament.
These are the views expressed by Dr M. But for the DAP and the PKR, this does not mean all ex-Umno members or PAS members should be integrated within the PH.
Send in your scoop to firstname.lastname@example.org