The Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council

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The Four Wise Men—being the respective heads of the Pakatan Harapan component parties—will meet this Saturday. The talk in town is that Bersatu’s success at luring UMNO MPs to join them has caused much concern and consternation within PKR and DAP, while AMANAH, judging by the excitement of its President in welcoming UMNO leader Mustapa Mohamad seems happy with the whole plan.

Since PH is a coalition of four parties, strictly speaking, it should not concern any of the partners if one of them—in this case, BERSATU—is able to bring other MPs to join them. Of course, it is a different matter if the exercise of bringing in these UMNO leaders is criminal in nature, i.e. if it involves bribery, or if you use the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to threaten these MPs with multiple charges unless they join.

What will the leaders discuss, then? Bersatu will probably say that these UMNO leaders have joined them of their own free will and that the MACC was not used for this purpose. That will probably end the discussion.

Anyway, how does one prove bribery in these circumstances, or that someone powerful has influenced the MACC or the Registrar of Societies to act in a certain way to put fear into these MPs?

We all remember the days when former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, on many occasions, claimed that the MACC and Registrar of Societies always acted on their own and were not following his orders. Just because we have a new Government does not mean the political culture and practices of the past have ceased completely.

To many people, the exodus of UMNO MPs is not just to strengthen Bersatu, but to ring-fence Anwar Ibrahim. Of course, there have been denials; from the main characters, in our political drama, but the rumours are still flying. That’s why I suggested last month that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is appointed Deputy Prime Minister as soon as he became an MP. He is the leader of the largest party in the coalition and yet he is not in the Cabinet. This is one way to show the existence of unity in PH and not a conspiracy.

If, as many have said, some of the Ministers are inexperienced, then why are we leaving the experienced Anwar out when the logical thing to do is to bring someone like him in to strengthen the Cabinet? Unless the real reason is that not all PH leaders want Anwar as a Minister or even Prime Minister. They do not mind if Anwar remains Prime-Minister-in-waiting because the wait can be forever.

However, if PH wants Anwar to be anointed Prime Minister, then the reasonable thing to do is to make him Deputy to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed. They can share the workload and they can plan the development of the country for the long term. In this way, there will be less politicking, less scheming and gamesmanship, and more time for managing the country.

If Anwar is to be appointed Prime Minister, the reasonable thing to do is to fix a suitable date for him to take over. This should be the priority, not getting 40 UMNO MPs to cross over, or getting a Bersatu division leader to pass a resolution urging Tun Dr Mahathir to serve the full term.

All I want to see is some honesty in the way PH leaders behave towards one another. If they can’t be honest with their colleagues, how are we—the little people—going to get honest treatment from them?

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