KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Former Malaysian Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein said on Wednesday (Oct 16) that he does not have the influence to break up the Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling alliance, and was puzzled at being singled out as an instigator.
His comments came about a day after the four PH parties issued an unusual joint statement naming him as a leader trying to break up PH and allow the country to be ruled again "based on racial lines".
The four PH members are Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's Malay-based Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) which is led by MP Anwar Ibrahim, Chinese-majority Democratic Action Party (DAP) and moderate Islamic party, Parti Amanah Negara .
The statement issued by the PH scretariat and four PH leaders on Tuesday evening (Oct 15) is unusual for pointing an accusing finger at one particular opposition leader.
All the opposition parties and their leaders have naturally enough been agitating to weaken the ruling coalition since they lost in the general election last year.
The statement came about amid tensions between the DAP and top government officials following the arrest of 12 men with alleged links to Sri Lanka's defunct terror group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Two of those arrested were DAP assemblyment from Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.
Several DAP leaders have also spoken out against a recent gathering, the Malay Dignity Forum, for espousing strident pro-Malay views. The forum was officiated by Tun Dr Mahathir.
The PH statement said: "The Pakatan Harapan secretariat urges Umno politicians, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and his friends to stop their campaign to propose the idea of a government without DAP or Amanah.
"Hishammuddin has indicated in his writing and interview an inclination towards politics and governance based on racial lines."
The statement added: "This is an outdated mode of politics that runs contrary to the inclusive politics advocated by Pakatan Harapan."
The statement was signed by PH secretariat chief Saifuddin Abdullah, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, PPBM secretary-general Marzuki Yahya, Amanah's secretary-general Anuar Tahir and DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke.
The statement said: "Any 'naughty' attempts to return to the politics we have moved away from since May 9 last year, should not even be recorded in the footnotes of history."
Responding to the statement, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin, who is an MP with no position in Umno now, said PH should "sort out their own house" instead of finding fault with others.
"I view what is happening now as a signal that all is not well in Pakatan," he told reporters when met in Parliament's lobby. "If they are strong, they will not be targeting (his constituency) Sembrong of all people, as I have no position in the party."
Asked if he had secretly met PKR and PPBM lawmakers, Mr Hishammuddin said he had no reason to do so.
Mr Hishammuddin, who was home minister and defence minister when his cousin Najib Razak was prime minister, also questioned why Datuk Seri Anwar had singled him out as someone who is trying to block Mr Anwar from becoming prime minister.
"What Anwar said in Parliament, he has said to me in private that I was blocking him from becoming the prime minister."
"Who am I? I don't hold any party post and to say that I have influence in the party to block him from becoming prime minister doesn't make sense at all," Mr Hishammuddin said.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir, asked to comment on the joint PH statement that Mr Hishammuddin was trying to break up the ruling coalition, said: "They can try. I have not met Hishammuddin."