POLITICAL experts have warned that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad being fielded as a prime minister candidate of Pakatan Harapan (PH) will cause more harm than good.
Admittedly the former prime minister is highly experienced, his association with various unresolved controversial issues and scandals will see the opposition paying a heavy price in fielding him as a PM candidate.
The Malay Mail Online quoted Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Kamarul Zaman Yusoff as reasoning that Dr Mahathir was a logical choice given his remaining influence and experience.
“But at the same time, the coalition’s opponents may use this as ammunition and highlight the lack of capable leaders within PH, having to rely on a 92-year old former prime minister with his own baggage,” the expert says.
He also described Dr Mahathir’ promises of a wholesale reform of the Malaysian political system of being somewhat questionable, as the groundwork was laid by no other than Mahathir himself.
Whether or not Mahathir could still pack a punch and serve as well as he did during his 22 years in office, taking into consideration the almost century-old Mahathir also leaves room for doubts.
He pointed out it was still premature to establish the consequences of Mahathir being prime minister among other PH leaders, members and supporters but one thing is for sure – he suggested that it was not so easy to forget the past during Mahathir’s era as he was said to have ruled in an authoritarian and dictatorial manner.
“While his newfound allies appear ready to forgive Dr Mahathir for past transgressions, those among their rank-and-file seem less eager to do so,” Kamarul Zaman added.
Both Kamarul Zaman and geopolitical expert Azmi Hassan pointed out the common dismay of Opposition supporters in seeing the pact’s agreement on Dr Mahathir being made prime minister once again.
Azmi also went on the tell the news portal that while Dr Mahathir’s experiences mean it can be said PH has steady hands in governing the nation should they win in the upcoming general election but yet it could also work against them as the electorate will not forget the 22 years under Dr Mahathir.
He also noted that the voters’ sentiments could have been neglected by PH namely the fence sitters with regard to Dr Mahathir’s reputation.
However, Merdeka Center for Opinion Research co-founder and programmes director Ibrahim Suffian opined that PH only stood to gain from Dr Mahathir’s expertise on the operations of the government.
Offering a fresh viewpoint, Ibrahim said Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders’ incessant attacks against Dr Mahathir, could work to the latter’s favour in the eye of the public.
“Dr Mahathir also continues to have pockets of support in the higher echelons of the civil service and is held in some esteem by rural Malay voters, which Ibrahim said would allow the pact to offer a tough opponent to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“Conversely Dr Mahathir’s image is negative among some Islamists, particularly PAS sympathisers,” he was quoted as saying.
Dr Mahathir’s selection comes with the stipulation that he must make way for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who will be released from prison on June 8, to become prime minister once the latter obtains a royal pardon that would allow him to stand for election.
Meanwhile, going against the grain frohm day one on the pact and appearing consistent with the stance is the daughter of the late Karpal Singh, Sangeet Kaur Deo.
Sangeet, taking a firm and consistent stance on the issue since its conception said the move would also see the rebirth of Mahathirism.
While many PH leaders could only silently disagree, the daughter of t late DAP great sounded almost disappointed as she said it only showed that the Opposition had no one else to field as PM candidate, which reflects the absence of a long-term strategy within PH.
“The focus should always be on policies and principles (not personalities) and leaders must be groomed to ensure continuity.
“While it may be an act in desperation, as was our coalition with PAS at one point, will we be open to working with Najib (Prime Minister Najib Razak) one day, should desperate circumstances demand?” she asked in a statement.
PH announced it would field Mahathir as Prime Minister should it win the next polls while PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was named as the candidate for deputy prime minister in an announcement made during a PH convention in Shah Alam yesterday.
Sangeet described the reason that working with Mahathir was only to ensure change as “no longer holds water.”
“He will be PM all over again. Introducing the rebirth of Mahathirism.”
The lawyer also questioned the likelihood of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim taking over from Mahathir, who was supposed to only be an interim prime minister until Anwar became eligible.
Sangeet, from DAP, also said that Mahathir’s apology over the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other wrongdoings during his tenure as PM was done half-heartedly.
“This is not about forgiveness. This is about accountability. Persons in positions of power should be held accountable for their actions.
“Equally, he should be too, especially since the opposition has vowed to revamp the Attorney-General’s Chambers once in power, there should be no double standards about who should be investigated,” she stated.
Leaders in the opposition, she said, had remained silent in the face of Mahathir’s recent “apologies”.
“Judging from that, should we also expect silence from them during his forthcoming reign, should we take Putrajaya.”
She also questioned DAP’s sudden silence on the matter by saying, “DAP, I can’t hear you” by way of asking where its voice in fighting the abuse of power, freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, sanctity of our institutions and other issues had gone to.