KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Confidence in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is shrinking within the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition as an increasing number of his allies are openly demanding he show them proof that he has the majority support as claimed in September.
Several sources within the Opposition pact as well as those familiar with its workings told Malay Mail that disappointment in Anwar is growing. Especially after PH sources said Anwar sought “one more week” to prove he commands the majority in Dewan Rakyat after Budget 2021 was tabled last month, and promised to resign as PH chair and Opposition leader if he failed.
Some said internal fights have broken out between those in Anwar’s closest circle who have been forced to defend the PKR president against others in the party and in PH.
One source who spoke on condition of anonymity disclosed that Anwar has not been able to get support from the government MPs, including from Umno as previously claimed, adding that this has affected their trust.
“Now the phrase ‘strong, formidable and convincing numbers’ is being joked about even among the Opposition and party allies,” said one source, referencing Anwar’s answer in a September news conference when he was pointedly asked if he had sufficient support.
Malay Mail understands PH MPs have signed statutory declarations to support Anwar as the next prime minister.
On September 23, Anwar emerged from an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and asserted that he has a “formidable and convincing” majority to form a new federal government as several MPs were switching their allegiances.
However, Istana Negara announced on October 13 that Anwar had not presented the names of the MPs he claimed to be backing him but only informed the King of the numbers in his camp.
Another source said that some PKR members are calling for the return of their former vice-president Rafizi Ramli who announced a break from politics shortly after Election 2018.
“The return of Rafizi in PKR’s leadership is being engineered by some leaders in the party as they want a fresh approach and strategy,” said the source.
Rafizi broke his self-imposed silence yesterday to weigh in on the infighting within PKR.
In a tweet, the former Pandan MP who plotted the “Kajang Move” laughed at the political antics within PKR after a leaked WhatsApp chat discussion revealed internal dissent against Anwar.
Rafizi claimed he had long ago warned Anwar of surrounding himself with “flatterers” after being freed from prison as they would be a liability that stymie his ambitions to take government if he does nothing.
Fourteen PKR Youth leaders subsequently issued a joint statement last night urging their party colleagues to stay calm and resolve their conflicts through internal channels instead of airing them publicly, inadvertently confirming the leaked message of dissent brewing.
Among Anwar’s detractors were said to be PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir, his deputy Thiban Subbramaniam, and wing secretary Mohd Syukri Razab.
Akmal, who is also Johor Bahru MP, has been viewed as a protege of Rafizi ever since he served at Invoke, the think tank started by the latter before GE14.
However, Anwar’s supporters are confident the Port Dickson MP will prove his detractors wrong and make his move this week against the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government even after practically all the ministerial allocations under Budget 2021 have cleared Parliament’s committee stage.
A source familiar with the current political negotiations told Malay Mail that discussions with Umno were being held with individuals rather than the party as a whole.
Those being approached were Umno MPs against working with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali who had once been Anwar’s right hand man in PKR before the latter quit and joined Bersatu.
“The collaboration is not between the parties. That is why in Perak it did not work,” a PKR insider said, referring to PH’s olive branch to Umno in Perak after the coup two weeks ago.
Perak PH leaders from both PKR and DAP openly said they were willing to work with any party to form a new state government after Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu was toppled as mentri besar through a no-confidence vote in the state assembly triggered by Umno.
A similar tension between Umno and Bersatu is brewing in Johor. However, sources told Malay Mail that Johor PH assemblymen are unlikely to get involved in ousting Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad, who is from Umno, where a three-seat difference could result in a change of government.
BN commands 16 seats in the Johor assembly while PN — comprising Bersatu and PAS with 13 — and PH has 27 assemblymen.