Naming Dr Mahathir and Dr Wan Azizah for the top two posts in the nation proves that the Opposition has dropped its reformation agenda

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From ‘reformasi’ to ‘saving Malaysia’ to finally ending up as flagbearers of nepotism – this narrative will not sit easy with the rakyat when considering whether the opposition pact of Pakatan Harapan is deserving of taking over Putrajaya.

That the opposition coalition finally endorsed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PBBM) chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad as its prime minister candidate and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for deputy prime minister should Pakatan Harapan emerge victorious in the 14th general election (GE14) proves that nepotism and not reformation has now become its agenda in wresting power from the Barisan Nasional-led government.

Mahathir was hardly the preferred choice of PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim as the prime minister candidate. Anwar’s five-year jail term for sodomy ends on June 8.

That there was a consensus or ‘muafakat’ from Pakatan Harapan in naming Mahathir as its prime minister candidate begs clarity, given the ground reality of Mahathir not being welcome to rule the country yet again.

No one knows how shortlived Mahathir’s tenure as prime minister would be as it all hinges on whether Anwar is granted a royal pardon should Pakatan Harapan succeed in taking over the country’s administration.

If the royal pardon comes Anwar’s way, it would be time for Mahathir to exit as premier. Many, however, are sceptical that the seat would be vacated for Anwar to step in as prime minister.

While Pakatan Harapan might live to regret its decision of picking Mahathir as its prime minister candidate, the fact that both he and Anwar are fixated with becoming premier is no mark of credible leaders.

The room has become crowded with Mahathir, his son Mukhriz, Wan Azizah and Anwar all vying to stay in the same frame and exude power and authority.

Still, are there no deserving candidates besides Mahathir and Anwar to lead Malaysia? Is the nation indebted to these two politicians for them to insist on wielding power?

Mahathir is no malleable character and with power once again vested in him, it is possible that he would want Mukhriz to essay an equally powerful role in managing the country. What happens then? Would Pakatan Harapan be bothered to spend time and money to sue Mahathir for a breach of trust?

The struggle for a greater Malaysia was far simpler when the opposition championed ‘reformasi’.

Today, with the stakes having been raised so very high, it is tragic that nepotism has become the byword for Pakatan Harapan in its claim of wanting to cleanse the country of corruption and abuse of power.

It is iniquitous that the opposition coalition has chosen to play safe by depending on Mahathir, a politician who has no interest in staying true to his word, to deliver victory in GE14.

All is fair game in politics

To make matters worse, Pakatan Harapan’s final say of wanting Mahathir to shoulder the burden of premiership before Anwar comes on board has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many.

One of them is Sangeet Kaur Deo, daughter of the late DAP chairperson Karpal Singh. That Pakatan Harapan could not see beyond Mahathir raises serious questions on the coalition’s ability to chart out an effective long-term political strategy.

“The focus should always be on policies and principles, not personalities, and leaders must be groomed to ensure continuity.

“The argument that working with Tun (Dr Mahathir) is only to ensure change no longer holds water. He will be prime minister all over again, introducing the rebirth of ‘Mahathirism’.

“(The plan to make Dr Mahathir) interim prime minister until Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is eligible; when will that happen and how realistic is that?” Sangeet queried in her Facebook posting some three hours after Pakatan Harapan named Mahathir as its choice for prime minister on Jan 7.

To Sangeet, the fact that Opposition leaders adopted a deafening silence in the face of Mahathir’s recent apologies was worrying as it was a precursor to more worries ahead given Mahathir’s abhorrence for dissenting voices.

Sangeet, who is also the Wanita DAP international secretary, decried that Mahathir’s apologies for arrests under the Internal Security Act and other wrongdoings during his premiership lacked earnest.

“This is not about forgiveness, this is about accountability. Persons in position of power should be held accountable for their actions and equally, he should be too.

“And since the Opposition has vowed to revamp the Attorney-General’s Chambers once in power, there should be no double standards about who should be investigated.

“DAP has always been the voice against abuse of power, freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, sanctity of our institutions et cetera,” she stressed.

Sangeet’s unhappiness with Pakatan Harapan’s decision to make Mahathir the interim prime minister should it win the coming general election underscores the risk the opposition coalition has willingly assumed by turning to Mahathir for its political survival.

Mahathir and Anwar were no erstwhile friends. Instead, both were ambitious politicians hankering to stay in power indefinitely, as it were, until the former sacked Anwar as his deputy in 1998, vilifying him for sodomy and corruption.

Uncanny indeed that two decades later and it is Mahathir who is supposedly doing the opposition a favour by holding the fort, proving Shakespeare right when he exclaimed “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”

The opposition coalition’s desperation in clinging on to Mahathir to secure victory in the 14th general election is a classic depiction of how all is fair game in politics, the loss of face and integrity regardless.

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