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Abdul Hadi Awang: Pakatan’s candidate for prime minister? — Galvin Wong

NOV 22 — A certain PAS president by the name of Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has been dominating much of the news headlines recently.

He begin a couple of weeks ago by stating that he would stand anywhere the party would send him including against Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his constituency of Pekan.

He followed up his claim by then welcoming suggestions of him being prime minister in the recently concluded PAS muktamar. This statement came after strong calls were made for him to take up the post by delegates from the party’s Dewan Muslimat and Dewan Ulama.

Following this, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has stated that Pakatan Rakyat would consider this while the DAP has stated outright that Anwar remains its PM designate.

Although Hadi has since announced that he does not want the PM’s post, elements in his party are still continuing to pressure him into it.

What is the possibility of him being PR’s candidate for PM? 

The answer is, it is highly unlikely. I shall list out four reasons why this is so.

It has been agreed upon and publicly announced that Pakatan’s candidate for prime minister would be Anwar. The reason for this is because Anwar is a symbol of moderation and liberalisation. In the past five years we have seen that Malaysians want moderate party leaders to bring the country forward.

We see this in how Datuk Seri Najib Razak sets out to portray himself — a moderate prime minister pushing for racial unity and liberalisation in the country’s laws. While DAP leaders such as Lim Guan Eng fit the same bill, PAS leaders do not.

Proof of this is that the only major issue that they have championed in recent years is the hudud issue — one that does not receive much support among the Chinese, according to a survey done by UMCEDEL recently.    

Secondly, Anwar is not only most appealing to the public, he is also the most appealing leader to all the Pakatan Rakyat parties. While the DAP heralds good and clean governance and PAS is for an Islamic agenda in the country, PKR’s main objectives feature much of both.

There is much evidence to support this beginning with the makeup of support and leaders of all three parties. While the DAP’s leaders and supporters are mainly Chinese and PAS’s are mainly Malays, PKR is acceptable to all races as it is a party that practices good governance, with Selangor as an example, and also a party that deals with Islamic issues.

PR is expected to make inroads in states such as Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. PKR has a much greater presence in these states and is therefore more likely to contest and win more seats. Contrast this with PAS who has hardly any presence in east Malaysia, contesting only three parliamentary seats compared to PKR’s 29 seats in GE12.

Its relatively larger presence in Parliament goes to show that it is the party that has the most support among the public and should, according to democratic principles, deservedly lead the coalition and subsequently the government if it wins the largest number of seats in Parliament.

Thirdly, designating Hadi as a candidate for prime minister leaves PR open to strong attacks by BN. Branding PR as a party that flip-flops will definitely be on the cards for BN which has been on the receiving end of similar accusations because of Najib’s actions on the MAS-AirAsia share swap. This can also be played up to show PR as a hypocritical coalition.

It will also portray PR as a coalition that has much internal strife and disagreements. Dr Mahatir Mohamad has already launched an attack on PR on this issue.

Another attack that can stem from this decision deals with the hudud issue. Hadi becoming PM can be construed and portrayed as PAS being one step closer to implementing hudud to scare non-Muslims. This can explain why the DAP’s immediate reaction has been to deny such a possibility and call for Anwar to be PM.

Fourthly, a prime minister is the head of the government and has autonomy over many crucial policy areas that affect a country. Any head of government should have able decision-making skills derived from previous experience in government. And IF PR comes to power after GE13, it will need it even more due to the many long running problems it has pledged to tackle such as monopolies by tycoons.

In this area, Anwar is clearly the forerunner. He has such experience as he was previously finance minister and deputy prime minister before he was jailed in 2000. Hadi has such experienced as well though only at the state level and with a fewer number of years in government.

This leads us to the question of why Anwar had even considered the possibility of Hadi being the PM-designate? In my opinion, Anwar did so for fear that accusations of strive and infighting would be levelled at Pakatan if he had immediately disagreed with Hadi.

What happens now?

It is clear that there is hardly a possibility of Hadi becoming PR’s PM-designate. In order to further eliminate uncertainty, Pakatan has to discuss this issue (portraying teamwork and unity), end uncertainty by clearly stating that Anwar shall be PR’s designate and make sure this does not become an issue again.

Even as the elections draw closer, Pakatan needs to remain united and train the spotlight on poor BN governance and not its own drawbacks. This close to elections a big slip-up will definitely play a major role in who wins and who loses.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.



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