PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement today that he had gathered the support of enough MPs to form a new government caught not only his opponents off-guard but also surprised his allies.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Anwar informed him about the takeover plan moments before the Port Dickson MP made the announcement at Le Meridien Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
Lim told Malaysiakini that he was under the impression that Anwar had succeeded in convincing GPS to join forces with Pakatan Harapan.
“He gave the impression that he had GPS supporting him to have a comfortable majority. With GPS it should be at least 120 MPs,” he said.
However, GPS has come out to strongly deny that it is siding with Anwar and reaffirms its support for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
This meant that Anwar was making deals with other parties in the Perikatan Nasional government.
It later became apparent that they involved Umno MPs.
The support from Umno MPs was seen after Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi went public shortly after the announcement to reveal that “many” MPs from his party were backing Anwar.
Zahid also claimed that he was powerless to stop them. His message was in stark contrast to other Umno leaders such as Zahid’s deputy, Mohamad Hassan and BN secretary-general Annuar Musa who vehemently denied Anwar’s claim.
Lim, who spoke to Malaysiakini while campaigning in Keningau for the Sabah election, admitted that another party other than GPS coming in was unexpected.
“I just want to say this – we expected it to be GPS. When (people) talked about other parties, it was something unexpected,” he said.
Anwar had said the new government if formed, will be a Malay-Muslim majority with firm safeguards for minority communities.
Lim said he had no qualms with the arrangement as long as it is a government that is competent, clean, fair, democratic, transparent, accountable and safeguards the rights of all communities.
However, the DAP secretary-general said he needed to get more details first.
“How am I going to react when I don’t have the details from him?” he said.
Lim said the immediate priority now was winning the Sabah election.
Shortly after Anwar’s announcement today, Amanah pledged its full support for Anwar, but DAP was more cautious, stating that it was prepared to back Anwar if he can get the necessary majority as claimed.
DAP had long lobbied for GPS, which has 18 MPs, to be recruited in a bid to regain power in Putrajaya.
Collectively, PKR, DAP and Amanah under Pakatan Harapan only have 91 MPs. Warisan, Upko and Pejuang, which forms the third bloc, has 15 MPs.
The four largest parties on the government bloc are Umno (39 MPs), Bersatu (31 MPs), PAS (18 MPs) and GPS (18 MPs).
With PAS and GPS firmly against Anwar, that means for Harapan to gain a strong majority of 120 MPs or more, without the involvement of the third bloc, will involve a substantial number of Umno or Bersatu MPs.
Some MPs from these parties, particularly Umno, include controversial figures such as former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak who brought about the multi-billion ringgit 1MDB scandal and also several other leaders facing corruption charges.
Anwar’s assurance to Kit Siang
However, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, who is also campaigning in Sabah, said Anwar had previously assured him that no deals would be cut with controversial figures in Umno.
“I last met Anwar before I came to Sabah to campaign for Warisan Plus candidates in the Sabah state general election campaign.
“Anwar assured me that he was not contacting former Umno leaders like Najib and Zahid nor the PAS leadership in the attempt to regain the people’s mandate which was illegitimately robbed in the “Sheraton Move” conspiracy in Feb 2020 which toppled the 22-month Pakatan Harapan Government.
“I have been in Sabah since Sept 14 and have not been in contact with Anwar, and Anwar’s media conference today is as much a surprise to me as to anyone else,” he said.
Kit Siang acknowledged that politics was now moving into unchartered waters.
“It is no secret for instance that Umno leaders want a snap general election because they believe that with the tie-up with PAS, they are likely to regain control and even hegemony of the federal government as well as the premiership.
“Umno may not find PAS so co-operative in its political machinations, because PAS leaders suddenly see themselves as “king-makers” in the political arena. Their political choices are not just confined to cooperation with Umno, now that Muhyiddin and Bersatu are quite dependent on their cooperation for survival.
“How political events will pan out after the Sabah state general election is very much an unchartered work-in-progress – with the outcome of the Sabah state general election on Saturday an important factor in the cauldron of political developments,” he said.