Pakatan can follow Myanmar model in choosing PM
By Tay Tian Yan
The discussions over who is or should be Pakatan Harapan’s prime minister-designate rages on.
First, everyone was talking about Anwar Ibrahim, but as he is not available now, and for the presumable future, the founding component parties – PKR, DAP and Amanah – went for PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, but more as a seat warmer for Anwar.
And then newest Pakatan member, PPBM asked why must it be Anwar and not its president and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin?
And the other Pakatan parties were not happy about that: “You only have one seat, why make so much noise?”
Moreover, Muhyiddin gives people the impression that he still retains much of Umno’s DNA. If he were to be made PM, wouldn’t we be back to square one?
Since Muhyiddin couldn’t get himself through, PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad came out and offered to be a “transitional” PM if “the need arises”.
But, most people do not seem to buy Mahathir’s goodwill. Some argue: “This old fox is finally showing his colours.”
Anyway, Mahathir is already at a very advanced age of 92. If he really becomes our PM one day, he will most definitely set a world record as the oldest prime minister in history.
Probably due to the below-expectation response, Mahathir steered a sharp U-turn, saying he now supported Anwar as the next PM.
Anwar had won a lot of praise earlier by proclaiming he would not offer himself as the candidate for the premiership.
During the recent Hari Raya break, Nurul Izzah and Mahathir had a meeting in London, and it was said the meeting was both about cooperation and the choice of PM.
There is skepticism inside Pakatan. How can the future of Pakatan and this country be in the hands of Anwar’s daughter and Mahathir?
Well, if the two families have decided to set aside their ill-feeling by persuading their people to support Anwar as PM, but again, we have to assume that Pakatan really wins the election this time.
Perhaps they can take the cue from what happened in Myanmar.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party NLD contested in the country’s first democratic election in many years, just a few years ago. Though NLD won, she was constitutionally restricted from becoming president.
Under a special arrangement, Suu Kyi gave way to her confidant Htin Kyaw to become Myanmar president while she herself became “State Counselor” and was also appointed foreign minister.
The whole world knew that this “Counselor” is the “de facto president” of Myanmar.
Anwar can become a de facto leader without assuming the position of prime minister, just like Suu Kyi, if a consensus is reached within Pakatan.
But the thing is: the situation here is different from Myanmar. Anwar is still behind bars, unlike Suu Kyi who is walking free.
Imagine during the first cabinet meeting ministers from different political parties do not agree on a number of policies, and PM Kak Wan, as usual, cannot make a decision.
With so many uncertainties in the opposition pact, how can it give people confidence to stand alongside them to topple the Barisan Nasional government?
Moreover, I have a feeling that all this appears to be the game of just a handful of people acting not in response to public needs.
Ask the young people around us, how many actually know Anwar and Mahathir well enough, and whether these two old men understand how young Malaysians think?
People born after 1990 know very little about Mahathir and Anwar. All that they know are two unfamiliar names and senile faces. The same goes for Muhyiddin and DAP’s Lim Kit Siang.
In them, we see only endless fights and outdated political thinking. Will young Malaysians pin their hopes on these old men to let them continue moving the nation on the treadmill?
This is one big question Pakatan Harapan needs to ask itself, one that entails its future destiny.
The same also puts BN to test.
Any side that is willing to transform itself will have a better chance and will put more pressure on the opposite side.
The whole world is racing with the times – racing on the real track, not one on the treadmill.
While there is still time, why not pass the baton to a new generation of leaders, and hopefully this will give us the opportunity to do the much needed catching up.
* Tay Tian Yan writes for Sin Chew Daily.