Kuala Kangsar MP's case a symptom of 'illness' in PN

KHAIRIL ANWAR MOHD AMIN
KHAIRIL ANWAR MOHD AMIN
18 Oct 2023 12:13pm
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SHAH ALAM - The decision by Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid to declare his support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim last week is not only surprising to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Perikatan Nasional (PN), but also comes as quite a shock to the country.

Many considered Iskandar Dzulkarnain's decision to be contradictory to Bersatu's en bloc stance.

However, technically, the former 'proxy' of Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu has yet to leave the party despite facing the possibility of being sacked from the party.

This also raised the possibility that the Kuala Kangsar parliamentary seat may be vacated if the Perak Bersatu leader openly moved to the government bloc in the Dewan Rakyat, taking into account the Anti-Party-Hopping Bill which was passed, last year.

For some political observers, Iskandar's case was seen as 'baffling' as there were two conflicting narratives presented in Bersatu.

In the first narrative, Iskandar claimed that the decision to support the unity government was made after considering the need for development funds for parliamentary members.

Meanwhile, the second narrative was put forward by Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin who claimed that Iskandar was being threatened, pressured and coerced by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and a close associate of Anwar, to the point of facing the risk of prosecution for corruption.

Yesterday, MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki denied Hamzah's claims, so no one knew which narrative was true.

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Implicitly, many political analysts believed that Iskandar's case did not only appear 'baffling' but also showed that there were symptoms of an 'illness' within Bersatu and PN.

In addition, the role of Bersatu and PN was seen as less efficient as an opposition bloc that was credible after the six state elections.

If Iskandar's case was closely examined, it has long been voiced out by a significant number of PN MPs.

Their complaints have consistently been heard in the Dewan Rakyat, even to the point where Ketereh MP Datuk Khlir Mohd Nor commented on the lack of development funds, which later became a social media joke.

"The confidence and supply agreement (CSA) is not the same as the one former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob signed with representatives of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) in 2021.

"The top leaders of Bersatu and PN seem to be unaware of the voices of the MPs who are striving to secure funding to help the people in their constituencies and do not respond positively to the government's offerings.

"The absence of CSA has caused Bersatu and PN MPs to appear loss and the situation was used by the government to 'persuade' them," said Ilham Centre executive director Hisommudin Abu Bakar to Sinar Premium.

Failure to reach consensus

Another symptom of PN's 'illness' was the failure of Bersatu and Pas in reaching a consensus to address important issues in an integrated manner.

For example, they failed to strategise to become a pressing force against the government on key issues in Parliament because they each moved in isolation in presenting their political positions and there was a polemic regarding the acceptance of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as an advisor to the four state governments ruled by Pas.

"Given that Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Pas president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang are understood to have not held a PN Supreme Council meeting for a long time, I consider the 'hanging' relationship between the two parties to provide room for the government to implement a divide and rule agenda.

"In conclusion, PN is now in a phase similar to the end of the Muafakat Nasional (MN) cooperation between Umno and Pas.

"The future of PN will be even darker if Anwar's invitation to Pas to join the unity government is eventually considered by the leaders of that party," he said.

Meanwhile, Nusa Research Centre for Political Studies chief researcher Arif Anwar Lokmanol Hakim revealed that he has received information that several more Bersatu MPs were expected to follow in Iskandar's footsteps soon.

Describing this scenario as likely to occur and stemming from allegations of internal crisis within Bersatu, Arif did not deny that many Bersatu leaders were increasingly uncomfortable with Pas' growing influence in four state governments post-state elections.

"Based on internal Bersatu information, the internal turmoil in the party stems from the clash between Hamzah's camp, the camp supporting the leader of the opposition in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and the Ansar camp (original party leaders).

"With the Hamzah and Azmin fcamps seen as dominating Bersatu and becoming the main architects of the party's direction, leaders in the Ansar camp are marginalised, causing many of them to turn away.

"It is possible that the decision of the Kuala Kangsar MP is driven by the crisis," he said.

Arif also said the power struggle conflict within the leadership of Bersatu and PN was also causing the opposition coalition to appear weak in exposing government scandals related to public interests.

"Bersatu and PN have failed to become an effective check and balance body in Parliament because the coalition's focus seems to have shifted towards internal party issues, and the relationship between Bersatu and Pas also seems to be increasingly strained," he said.

Meanwhile, Bersatu information chief Datuk Razali Idris denied the existence of a crisis between Pas and Bersatu within PN, attributing the allegations to certain parties attempting to sow discord between the two parties in question.

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