Commentary: In making moves to align with UMNO, has Anwar’s PKR lost its moral compass?

SINGAPORE: In what appears to be turning into a behavior, opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim’s hastily-convened press convention on Tuesday promised nuggets of latest information and yielded however a whiff of gold mud.

At the occasion, Anwar confirmed that talks between his celebration, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) have been, the truth is, going down.

Stressing that it was untimely to say something particular, he acknowledged that discussions on cooperation have been within the “initial” levels.

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The opposition chief additional claimed that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin didn’t have a parliamentary majority, as a portion of the ruling coalition had really pledged assist to him.

In distinction, he, Anwar, had an “adequate” majority. When pressed about who in UMNO he had been speaking to, the opposition chief was coy – stating merely that he talked to “everybody”.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves after a meeting at United Malays National Organi

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak leaves after a gathering at United Malays National Organization (UMNO) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

The announcement has definitely attracted consideration and – at first blush – the potential for an alliance between the 2 events is intriguing.

The timing is sweet, because it comes on the heels of UMNO’s resolution to not cooperate with Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition within the subsequent election. In the occasion of an election, the 2 events would complement one another.

UMNO polls properly in rural, Malay-majority seats and PKR is robust in city, multi-ethnic seats.


However, there are many opponents to the hypothetical “unholy alliance” on each side of the fence.

From UMNO’s aspect, the prospects of a tie-up with PKR would finally be unsatisfying. For, if the supremely assured celebration is deeply sad about its secondary place in Perikatan Nasional, how would this be resolved in an alliance with Anwar at its head?

If relations between Malaysia’s grand outdated celebration and Muhyiddin’s upstart Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) are fraught, these between UMNO and PKR are much more advanced, entrenched, and embittered.

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UMNO grassroots are vocal, plentiful, and influential, and an alliance with PKR – and by extension the Democratic Action Party – would give the tactical high-ground to PPBM in Malay-majority wards.

Small surprise, then, that UMNO leaders haven’t been welcoming of the prospect, with Information Chief Shahril Hamdan saying that the celebration’s rejection of Perikatan Nasional doesn’t equate an settlement to work with PKR or DAP.

Azalina Othman, Johor MP and Deputy Speaker of parliament, pressured the necessity for the celebration’s apex physique, the Supreme Council, to agree to any such alliance. 

On the opposite aspect of the fence, PKR members have sought to forged these discussions in a constructive mild, however PH coalition companions are hostile. Amanah leaders have questioned whether or not UMNO has actually “repented” for its actions and whether it is prepared to let Anwar be the prime ministerial candidate.

The DAP Secretary-General, Lim Guan Eng, has rejected any type of cooperation. A multi-party group of youthful opposition leaders has issued a declaration calling for PH to stay agency in opposing this deal.

Beyond the resistance to working with UMNO, which is seen by many as the foundation of lots of Malaysia’s ills, the overt hostility is comprehensible if one asks who inside UMNO Anwar has been speaking to.

Muhyiddin Yassin (C) once described himself as a 'Malay first', rather than Malaysian

Muhyiddin Yassin (C) as soon as described himself as a ‘Malay first’, relatively than Malaysian first — sparking controversy in a multi-ethnic nation the place race and faith are deeply delicate AFP/Mohd RASFAN

The UMNO members in Muhyiddin’s cupboard are unlikely interlocuters, as they’d be unwilling to jeopardise their positions. The “Independent” cluster within the celebration can be unlikely to agree, as many hail from blended constituencies within the nation’s south – the place they’d be competing with PKR.

By a technique of elimination, this, leaves the “Court Cluster”, which incorporates the likes of senior leaders like celebration president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak.

These are the “losers” within the present set-up and have probably the most to achieve from a political “reset”. These are additionally the exact same folks that Amanah and the DAP are most hostile to working with. 


Thus, in all chance, greater than the disclosing of a complicated grasp plan, Anwar’s press convention seeks to underline his relevance, destabilise Perikatan Nasional, and inject some dynamism into the ranks of his celebration. 

In actuality, Anwar’s bid for some political momentum belies the truth that all will not be properly in PKR. In the previous weeks, a minimum of three MPs have left the celebration to develop into PN-friendly independents.

Granted, the primary two – Larry Sng from Julau in Sarawak and Steven Choong from Tebrau in Johor – are usually not national-level figures. However, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, celebration Vice-President, MP of Kaula Langat in Selangor and former Minister of Water, Land, and Natural Resources below Pakatan Harapan, is a determine of towering import.

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One of the celebration’s preliminary founders again in 1998, Jayakumar introduced his departure, stating he was deeply pissed off with the previous yr’s occasions, and that he disagreed with the opposition’s give attention to attaining nationwide workplace throughout a time of emergency. 

An extra 5 PKR MPs have acknowledged that they have been made presents to depart Pakatan Harapan. Anwar and the celebration management have gone on the offensive, charging that these parliamentarians have been induced to depart PH with combination of threats similar to in-depth investigations by the Internal Revenue Bureau and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, in addition to inducements similar to full allocations for constituency work. 

While Anwar could also be in search of the upper floor, his newest moves might price him dearly. By mooting working with UMNO, and extra significantly the Court Cluster, PKR seems to have lost its moral compass.

If he intends to sleep with the enemy, what’s to stop extra MPs from supporting the federal government of the day? 

Dr Francis E Hutchinson is a Senior Fellow and coordinator of the Malaysia Studies Programme on the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. This article was first printed by ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute as a commentary in Fulcrum.


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