PH divided from the day Bersatu came along, says Liew

PETALING JAYA : The Pakatan Harapan was a coalition that looked doomed from the start, with cracks already evident in the run-up to the 14th general election (GE14) and in the aftermath, says Liew Ching Tong.

In his biography of party stalwart Lim Kit Siang, titled “Lim Kit Siang: Patriot. Leader. Fighter”, the DAP man says the leaders were routinely clashing over policies and roles and the frequent disagreements dated back to Bersatu’s relationship with the opposition bloc.

He added that then Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad had even ordered his party to pull out of the coalition in 2017, unless the rest acceded to his wish to be named as the prime ministerial candidate.

Prior to officially joining the opposition, he said those within Bersatu had also butted heads over working with PAS.

In his book, DAP senator Liew Chin Tong said disagreements dated back to Bersatu’s early relationship with the opposition.

Mahathir had maintained his disdain for PAS while fellow Bersatu leaders Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir held on to hopes of sealing a seat deal with the Islamist party.

Around the same time, Muhyiddin had also tried to gain support for a new opposition coalition that would result in the disbanding of PH, with Bersatu and other component parties under a new banner.

This idea was a no-go with the PH coalition members, Liew wrote.

He said that even after Bersatu formally joined PH, many in the DAP were wary of working with Mahathir due to his role in the 1987 Ops Lalang that saw many DAP members, including secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, being thrown into jail.

“The pressure on DAP’s grassroots was huge as it was not easy to defend the decision (to work with Mahathir).”

Just before Hari Raya in 2017, Liew said Mahathir instructed Muhyiddin to pull Bersatu out of PH due to the prolonged tussle over who should lead the PH campaign, with members divided between the Mahathir-Anwar Ibrahim camp and the Muhyiddin-Azmin Ali faction.

“The deal was saved by Nurul Izzah (Anwar)’s visit to the Mahathir family in London during Hari Raya.”

This made Azmin “furious”, said Liew, adding that Azmin’s dissatisfaction was a precursor to the “Sheraton Move” less than three years later.

Seat arrangements were also hotly contested in early 2018, with each party having their own demands. Bersatu wanted to contest the most seats in the peninsula, while PKR, with branches in Sabah and Sarawak, wanted to be the biggest opposition party in the country.

After long discussions and arguments, and with seats sacrificed by Amanah, a consensus was eventually reached.

Even after the GE14 victory, there were problems. During the appointment of cabinet members, Liew said Muhyiddin threatened to resign after being denied the “coveted” finance minister’s job, which went to Guan Eng.

“This became one of the causes of Muhyiddin’s resentment against Dr Mahathir, which was on full display only after the Sheraton coup in 2020.”

Similarly, the creation of the economic affairs ministry, with Azmin at the helm, upset those in Anwar’s camp, as it was seen as an attempt to check Anwar from within PKR.

By : Imran Ariff – FMT

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