KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be Malaysia’s next prime minister if the opposition claims Putrajaya the next federal polls, members of PAS splinter group Harapan Baru (HB) said, joining ally DAP in endorsing the jailed PKR leader for the post.
The leaders admitted that the matter has not been formally deliberated but said there has never been any doubt among them that Anwar is the only leader capable of uniting the opposition.
“HB has no problem with the suggestion, we feel he is a deserving candidate who can inject new hope, politically,” Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa told Malay Mail Online over phone when contacted for comment on the nomination of Anwar as the PM-designate.
He cited Anwar’s track record, pointing out that the leader had successfully led Pakatan Rakyat (PR) for many years before he was sent to prison earlier this year for sodomy.
Mujahid acknowledged the demise of PR, however, but said that the opposition front was merely suffering a “minor hiccup”.
On Monday, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said in a statement that the soon-to-be-formed opposition coalition to replace PR will name Anwar as its PM-designate.
The pact that some have dubbed “Pakatan 2.0” and “Harapan Rakyat” is expected to comprise PKR, DAP and HB, which is expected to register next month as a political entity; other potential components have not been ruled out either.
HB secretary Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad concurred with Lim and Mujahid, and called Anwar an “iconic leader” who could still inspire the public even from behind prison walls.
“Even right now, in the crisis that is plaguing the country, we don’t see a cross-racial, cross-cultural leader rather than this iconic personality. There has never been any doubt, or any proposal for anyone else on our part,” said Dzulkefly.
“Leaders are really born out of struggle, they rise naturally. If you are debating just to find leader, then you are really in trouble. Leadership is like beauty, when you meet one, you will know it,” he added, quoting American scholar and author Warren G Bennis.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad explained that HB has yet to discuss its choice for its PM-designate as it is currently preoccupied with plans for the movement’s launch and registration scheduled for next month.
The lawmaker said, however, that he has no problem with selecting Anwar for the post as the leader has the backing of both the DAP and PKR.
Khalid also laughed off a suggestion that Anwar may bring down HB and the new coalition with his political baggage and disagreed with talk that because of his time in prison, the PKR stalwart has lost his relevance among the younger voters.
“As a victim of persecution, his length in prison is nowhere near Mandela. So I think time away is not a problem,” said Khalid, referring to South Africa’s first black president and revolutionary, the late Nelson Mandela.
“I think DAP’s suggestion was thanks to his struggle.”
Apart from hudud and other key issues, the topic of prime minister-designate had in the past been a point of dissension among DAP, PKR and PAS that had formed the PR pact.
Both DAP and PKR had wanted Anwar to take on the post should the pact ever claim Putrajaya but PAS refused to yield and insisted that there were other qualified leaders to fill the post, namely its own party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
Anwar is currently serving a five-year jail sentence in Sungai Buloh Prison after his appeal to the Federal Court against his second sodomy conviction was dismissed on February 10.