Anwar yet to agree to naming Dr Mahathir as PM: PKR leaders

(From left) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEW NETWORK) - While Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has yet to give his blessing to naming Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the opposition coalition's prime minister candidate, PKR leaders claimed that he wanted the party to further discuss the issue.

Multiple PKR sources claimed their de facto leader was not blocking the move but wanted a decision which reflected what the rakyat desired.

"He does not want our party to be pressured into a decision without going into the pros and cons of naming Dr Mahathir," said a top PKR leader who declined to be named.

The PKR leader said that many other party leaders were also uncomfortable with the idea of Dr Mahathir being Pakatan Harapan's prime minister candidate.

According to another highly-placed source, Anwar is more inclined to the idea of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for the top job and Datuk Seri Azmin Ali as the deputy prime minister candidate.

Muhyiddin has federal experience while Azmin is the Mentri Besar of Selangor.

However, PKR's stand is unlikely to stop Dr Mahathir's Parti Pribumi from going ahead to claim the position for their 92-year-old chairman at their party's first national AGM in Shah Alam today (Dec 30).

Muhyiddin, who is Parti Pribumi president, laid the groundwork during an interview with an online news portal, by stressing the urgency of naming a prime minister candidate ahead of the general election expected by April.

"Anwar is not threatened by Dr Mahathir as some have claimed.

"Why should he feel threatened by a 92-year-old man?

"Moreover, he will be out by June next year. Anwar reads the ground well and he is worried that it will not be good for us.

"When they formed (Parti Pribumi), the impression we got was that Muhyiddin would be the potential PM candidate. Dr Mahathir repeatedly said he did not want to contest (the general election). But people in DAP and Amanah went to persuade him, it got into his head and got the better of him," said the PKR leader.

The same PKR leader pointed out that their manifesto limits the prime minister to three terms and states that he cannot concurrently hold the finance portfolio.

"If Dr Mahathir is the choice, people will turn around and point out that Dr Mahathir started all this, how can he be trusted to change things?" said the PKR leader.

The move to name Dr Mahathir as prime minister candidate was mooted on the sidelines of a Pakatan retreat in Putrajaya earlier this month.

However, the idea was met with a cool reception in PKR even though Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was proposed for the deputy prime minister post.

There has also been a deafening silence from Anwar, 70, who is recovering from a shoulder surgery.

Since then, there have been conflicting and confusing statements from Pakatan leaders, a sign that a solution has yet to be found on this key matter.

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