The former premier may fail meeting the demands of the Opposition despite of a more than six decades of experience in politics
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Pakatan Harapan’s 92-year-old supreme leader, made a beeline to Penang in early February but unfortunately, the event was in Seberang Jaya on the mainland – the Malay belt of the state.
Had he spent time on the island, Mahathir would have likely ordered a meal of the state’s beloved dish – nasi kandar.
And the order would have likely gone to the Hameediyah House – the nation’s oldest nasi kandar outlet along Campbell Street. It is said to be the Kedah-born leader’s favourite outlet in Penang.
But alas, Mahathir had to rush over to the SP Arena for the first in a series of Pakatan state level conventions, but the rush was worthwhile as the reception towards him was warm as he strolled towards the convention centre here.
Mahathir smiled and gestured despite feeling unwell as he nursed a bout of flu.
Using the occasion at one of the most secured states for Pakatan, Mahathir reiterated his clarion call to stay united if the alliance of four parties wanted to break the grip that the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) has on the country.
The question looming ahead of the polls is whether the leaders, members and supporters would listen to the 92-year-old former premier, who has over 60 years of experience as a political stalwart.
Given the recent DNA makeup of the Opposition it is unlikely that they can “bury their hatchet”, and there is evidence to boot.
One of the most sorrowful tales before former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim went to jail for the second time was his party’s, PKR-driven ‘Kajang Move’ – a move engineered to find a new menteri besar for Selangor as there was a fallout with technocrat Khalid Ibrahim.
But it did not work out as planned. Instead of Anwar’s wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail becoming the country’s first female menteri besar, it was Anwar’s confidant Azmin Ali, who was given the blessings by the state palace to assume the position.
By then, Azmin and Anwar – the two ‘AAs’ were not exactly on the same page, as the former felt threatened by the rise of new leaders in PKR.
The fallout lingers on until today whereby the rift in PKR threatens to undermine the country’s main multiethnic party’s reach in the 14th general election, which by most counts is now just weeks rather than months away.
If Anwar, who is known as the doyen of the Opposition could not contain the fallout, what about Mahathir, who is relatively new to the demands and rigours of Opposition politics despite his political acumen of over six decades?
And for that reason, the Opposition is likely to face a resurgence of doubt from political observers, analysts and discerning voters – asking if Pakatan can really defeat BN?
Their leaders feel that Mahathir’s influence with the Malay ground could equally handle the race and religion based politics, an area which BN has the formula to brag about.
On the other hand PAS too has not exactly gone missing from the political landscape. The party of the ulama and rural citizens has remained firm with their hudud brand of politics and their message of loyalty and Islamic faith.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang is ailing but not to the extent of losing grip on the second oldest Islamic political party in the nation.
Surely PAS would grab some Malay votes and nullify whatever inroads that Pakatan may have secured in the Malay heartland.
Perhaps, their political strategy to be a kingmaker may come true.
And lets not forget the quagmire in Sabah and Sarawak.
It is for these reasons that many analysts say that it will be an uphill task for the Opposition to win the GE14, though politics at times is the art of the impossible.
Take US President Donald J Trump as an example during the last American election.
Can Mahathir replicate a Trump factor in Malaysia?
If the Opposition continues to quarrel – which they often do when elections come around – they may just fizzle out as they tend to for the past 60 odd years.
Mahathir could not have been clearer when he said that if the Opposition coalition remained disunited, then BN is likely to win.
It may all end as a sorrowful tale to retell, like the ‘Kajang Move’.