Pakatan holding roadshows to shed light on coalition collapse

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim (both above), key figures in Pakatan Harapan, have kept a low profile since Malaysia's new prime minister was sworn in. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Pakatan Harapan (PH) is embarking on a series of roadshows to explain to the public the political imbroglio that saw the coalition lose power less than two years after winning the general election.

The roadshows began last night in Kedah, in the constituency of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir, who is also a son of former premier Mahathir Mohamad. A second roadshow will be held in Selangor on Saturday.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) communications director Fahmi Fadzil told The Straits Times more roadshows will be held over the next few weeks to explain to party members and the public the events leading to the collapse of the coalition government.

Datuk Seri Mukhriz said: "Everyone wants to know what is going on and what our next step is going to be."

Malaysia has been left both transfixed and frustrated by the political turmoil that engulfed the nation when Bersatu and 11 PKR lawmakers left the coalition on Feb 24, triggering the collapse of the PH administration which had run the country since May 2018.

The roadshows, likely to feature local party members, are the first public outreach efforts it has taken since the political crisis.

Observers said PH's moves are aimed at gaining support and sympathy from members and the public. This experience will give PH the opportunity to reset itself.

"Members will have the impetus to rise and build on a new momentum to face their political enemies," said University of Malaya senior lecturer Associate Professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

Mr Prashant Waikar, a research analyst with the Malaysia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said many people, including voters, previously saw PH as underperforming. "But now, it is receiving significant sympathy. This could allow it to make significant electoral gains in the next election without having to deal with the 'baggage of underperformance'," he said. "PH can also use this as an opportunity to think about what went wrong within the coalition itself."

In the meantime, PH is asking its supporters to be steadfast and patient as it believes Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's Perikatan National (National Alliance) coalition will not last, pointing out the different factional interests between the various parties and their leaders.

"I hope the spirit of struggle among Pakatan and Warisan MPs, as well as public disapproval of the coup, would help maintain our current strength. If we can hold on to our strength for as long as possible, the coup coalition would find it hard to govern and will crack sooner rather than later," said Mr Liew Chin Tong, Johor chief of the Democratic Action Party.

PH maintains it was played out by traitors during the week-long chaos. It also insists that it is Tun Dr Mahathir who has the majority in Parliament, not Mr Muhyiddin.

It claimed that Dr Mahathir commanded the support of 112 MPs in the 222-member Parliament and that Mr Muhyiddin had misrepresented his support to the King.

Thus, PH's message to the public during the roadshow is that it is waiting for Parliament to be reconvened to file a motion of no-confidence against Mr Muhyiddin.

But there remain questions about when that will be. A sitting scheduled for March 9 is now unlikely to take place and many believe the new PM will want to delay a sitting until he is sure he has enough support to survive a no-confidence vote.

Parliament Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said on Monday that he has not yet received an update on whether the Parliament meeting would go ahead as planned.

However, MPs said they have not received any notice that indicated Parliament will not sit next Monday. "Once we have clarity on this, the PH presidential council will meet to decide on our next course of action," said PKR's Mr Fahmi.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2020, with the headline Pakatan holding roadshows to shed light on coalition collapse. Subscribe