KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim now says PKR and rivals Umno are not that different ideologically, telling a Malay daily that the two camps are fundamentally striving for the same goals amid talks that the two parties could potentially align.
In an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, Anwar suggested that Umno as a party was originally formed around the ideals of good governance much like PKR, and that the former’s goal to uplift Malay socio-economic standards has always been among the cornerstone of his party’s struggle.
Anwar, himself a former Umno deputy president, said what sets the two apart is merely how PKR plans to implement those objectives.
PKR, ostensibly to allay Malay suspicion of the Opposition, had said it would continue to uphold Malay rights and Islam while stressing on equal treatment of other races.
“We are different in terms of implementation and excessiveness,” the PKR president was quoted as saying when asked if PKR’s grassroots would accept the idea of working with arch rivals Umno.
“When it comes to uplifting the Malays when Umno worked enthusiastically with MIC and MCA, why wasn’t it a problem? To fight corruption is the party’s core belief. To uphold Islam and spur fast economic growth, I don’t think there are any contradictions here,” he added.
Anwar’s interview with Mingguan Malaysia, the weekend edition of Utusan Malaysia, came amid mounting speculation that the PKR president has intensified attempts to court Umno leaders.
Anwar has repeatedly hinted in the past that he is open to the idea of aligning with the very rivals he had fought to oust, justifying it as a necessity to take down the ruling Perikatan Nasional government and return power to Pakatan Harapan.
The PKR president’s interview with the Malay daily is likely the clearest indication of his intention to forge an alliance with the party’s archrivals to date.
Anwar said there is a need to abandon politics that “sidelines certain groups” and suggested that there is nothing wrong with working with Umno if the party is willing to accept ideals upheld by PH.
“If this context is understood, then in the possibility of working together, that we are doing now with the DAP and Amanah, and now with the Umno whose ideals coincide with ours, not because we are trying to save certain factions or some of their ministers at all costs, that we abandon our ideals and struggles,” he said.
“But if they (Umno) accept (cooperation), then it must be based on idealism.”
PKR’s allies — DAP and Amanah — have expressed clearly that they oppose collaborating with Umno, which has fueled rumours of tension within the coalition.
It is also unclear whether Anwar’s proposition is entirely welcomed within his own party, a fact Anwar noted.
But the PKR president told Mingguan Malaysia he would do his part to convince them.
“On Umno’s side, of course, they have to solve that. On PKR’s side I can explain to the grassroots,” the PKR president said.
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