Expectations high but Pakatan meeting could end in status quo

Zainal Epi
Malaysians want to know whether Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) will name PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as his successor. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

COMMENTARY, Feb 20 — Malaysians are anticipating tomorrow’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council meeting in the hopes of getting clarity about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s power transition.

They want to know whether Dr Mahathir will name PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as his successor. The issue has taken a toll on the ruling coalition that still must deliver on its election pledges.

PH has been in disarray since winning the general election and appears rudderless. The transition issue has worsened this. One faction wants Dr Mahathir to stay and another wants him to hand over power to Anwar this year.

The disagreement has threatened to split the coalition but every time it neared a crisis, tensions subsided.

The latest development is Opposition party PAS’s plan to table a motion of confidence in the prime minister before Parliament, after the latter came under criticism from his own coalition.

PH leaders said PAS was obviously trying to divide the coalition.

The PAS move will force PH leaders critical of Dr Mahathir but unwilling to table a motion of no-confidence against him to show their true allegiance.

Many think Dr Mahathir is under extreme pressure to hand over his position to Anwar. He is expected to be pushed into attending the PH meeting tomorrow.

Others attending include Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Anwar, his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, Mohamed Sabu as president of Parti Amanah Nasional (Amanah) and Lim Guan Eng for DAP.

Malaysians expecting finality on the power transition tomorrow may not get it.

There will not be any signed document or written deadline for when Dr Mahathir must hand over the position, according to those who knew him during his previous stint as prime minister.

Dr Mahathir will not want to become a lame duck prime minister by signing any such agreement. This is because the civil service and business leaders would simply bide their time and wait for his successor to take over.

Secondly, Dr Mahathir will also not want to expressly name his successor even though PH has repeatedly said Anwar would inherit his post.

Dr Mahathir is expected to leave the matter for Parliament to decide.

In short, do not expect a bombshell tomorrow as Dr Mahathir is a leader who is “best in his fight when pushed”.

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