INTERVIEW | When Muhyiddin Yassin decided to withdraw Bersatu from the Pakatan Harapan coalition, its members and leaders were left in a conundrum.
They were torn between their president, Muhyiddin, and chairperson, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The latter chose to remain with his Harapan allies.
Most, including Youth wing member Wan Ahmad Fayshal Wan Ahmad Kamal (above), went with Muhyiddin, leaving Mahathir with a handful of loyalists.
Speaking to Malaysiakini and Bicara Minggu Ini in an interview, Fayhsal explained the reasons for leaving Harapan although the then Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman chose to be with Mahathir.
"The sentiment within Armada (Youth wing) to follow the president was not so much because of the president but due to the painful experience we had in Harapan, especially with DAP," he said.
This sentiment, according to the deputy youth and sports minister, was evident when Syed Saddiq made the announcement that the wing would remain with Mahathir to support Harapan during the crisis.
"When he (Syed Saddiq) made this unilateral proclamation, he was rebuked by the grassroots from all over the country,” he noted.
Asked to elaborate on Bersatu's relationship with DAP in Harapan, Fayshal said it was a difficult alliance.
The 33-year-old politician pointed out that a vast majority of Bersatu members were from Umno and had been antagonistic towards DAP in the past.
Having to work together, he claimed that Bersatu members were forced to be patient and tolerate DAP.
"During the two years together, I think Bersatu members were very patient and tried to moderate our views on many things that were controversial in nature.
"So, it was not a happy relationship," he added.
On the same note, Fayshal said there was mutual respect between the two parties and praised certain DAP leaders, whom he described were moderate and professional.
He named organising secretary Anthony Loke, who was also the former transport minister, and his predecessor in the Youth and Sports Ministry, Steven Sim, as examples.
"These are the people whom I think the Malays could generally support. But, we don't buy into DAP's ideology. That is definitely a no-no," he stressed.
Anwar's supporters strained ties in Harapan
Another factor which contributed to the crumbling of the Harapan government, noted Fayshal, was the supporters of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim pressuring Mahathir to pass the leadership baton to the former.
Furthermore, he said the internal bickering in PKR between Anwar and his former number two Azmin Ali, who also quit Harapan, made the then ruling coalition unstable.
"The internal bickering and the pressure on Tun (Mahathir) to relinquish the post (of prime minister) became a pain throughout Harapan's time (as government) and the coalition could not be sustained under such circumstances,” he added.
Meanwhile, Fayshal also stressed that despite their differences with Mahathir, there is no lack of respect for the nonagenarian.
The decision to side with the party president, he said, was an act of following the party direction.
"Despite our differences with Tun, we would always honour him as our statesman and founder of the party.
"Nonetheless, we followed the direction of the party as decided in the supreme council meeting on the reasons to leave Harapan,” he added.
Therefore, he disagreed with those who label them as well as the former PKR leaders who left with Azmin as traitors.
"This is incorrect. I think what we are doing is basically toeing the party line.
"I am a party member first. Yes, I worked under Syed Saddiq before, and I really respect him as my former boss and also a best friend.
"But when it comes to the party, when it comes to the direction of the party, the constitution and institution of the party comes first above all other personalities, including Tun," he added.