LAWYER and activist Haris Ibrahim is the latest to warn the proponents of the purported Pakatan Nasional backdoor government of street protests should they go ahead with their plan.
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The founder of the Asal Bukan Umno (ABU) pressure group that was among the movers of the Bersih protests prior to the fall of the Barisan Nasional government on May 9, 2018, said the Pakatan Harapan government was formed after a long and hard struggle of the people, while also citing the lack of reforms under the leadership of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as a major cause of the decaying trust in the ruling coalition.
“If (PKR president) Anwar Ibrahim is committed to the manifesto and the reforms that we promised, then the transition of power should be expedited, not delayed to after the APEC Summit as Tun Dr Mahathir has stated,” said Haris, after the HELP University Symnposium, where Anwar delivered a keynote address entitled “The Construct of a Nation: As I see it”.
“There was an agreement. It was based on some discussions or agreements within the Pakatan Harapan leadership. That’s not a promise to the rakyat. The promise to the people is enshrined in the manifesto. To me, I go back to before GE14 on May 9, 2018.
“For two, three years I stressed that Mahathir cannot lead the country in a new government, should the Umno-Barisan Nasional government be toppled. But in the end, whether we wanted or not, Umno and BN needed to be toppled. So, we put aside the issue of who would lead. I go back to the agreement.. If you say two years, three years, we don’t know.
“What we do know is this. There are promises of reforms. What we have seen in the last almost two years is, that a lot of the promises have not materialised. At this symnposium, one important note for myself and for many of the people who have for so long gone down to the grassroots and worked hard, struggled for change, Anwar touched on the issue of needs-based policies, rather than race-based. This is much needed. Thus, guided by what I have heard today, there are other parts of the manifesto which Anwar has to consider as the next Prime Minister.
“The first is to return what is due to Sabah and Sarawak (under MA63) and secondly the promise that we would do without draconian laws such as the Sedition Act. Recently, we see Thamrin Ghaffar was being investigated under the Sedition Act. Why is this still the case, when we have a government that promised us that all that should go?”
Several pro-Pakatan Harapan NGOs have in last month turned up the heat on the purported manoeuvering for a backdoor government by anti-Anwar sections of PKR and Bersatu, with the Otai Reformis group being the first to warn of street protests if such moves did materialise and Dr Mahathir did not hand over the reigns to Anwar within the two-year timeframe as allegedly promised.
While this happened, the clandestine operations towards the so-called backdoor government seemed to be gaining traction, at least in terms of framing of narratives, either leaked or through announcements such as those by the PAS leadership of support for Dr Mahathir to complete his full term, echoing PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and Umno’s Hishammuddin Hussein.
The Reformists have set a May 9 deadline for Dr Mahathir to end his second tenure in the number 1 seat, which marks exactly two years since he assumed the post. Despite Anwar’s own concession that he does not mind waiting another six months, the pressure groups see behind-the-scenes efforts to undo the promises as a sign to ensure the transition is not delayed. Dr Mahathir’s latest promise is to step down after the Asia Pacific Economic Community (APEC) Summit in Kuala Lumpur in November, although he has not determined an exact date.
Former Anwar aide Datuk Ezam Mohd Noor has led the charge with a nationwide roadshow, which gathers a growing number of supporters of the Reformasi movement and also serving as a stage where he exposes allegedly secret plots to deny Anwar the transition as per Pakatan Harapan’s pre-elections agreement.
An alleged effort to collect statutory declarations from enough MPs to form a majority in Dewan Rakyat for a vote for Dr Mahathir to continue is also said to be on the cards, although both that and a purported Pakatan Nasional formation to replace PH has either been thwarted or received insufficient support, depending on which side tells the story.
Haris echoed the Reformists warning by stating he would pick his battles but warned that street protests were on the cards should the elected government be unseated via a backdoor arrangement such as the mythical Pakatan Nasional that is said to comprise anti-Anwar sections of PKR, Bersatu, the Muafakat Nasional collaboration of Umno and PAS, along with BN components MCA and MIC, and Sabah-based Warisan. Ezam alleges the plot is led by PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, former Umno vice president and Sembrong MP Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Dr Mahathir’s son Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir.
“We worked for a long time to get rid of Umno-BN. The Umno after 1987 is not the original Umno, it is Umno Baru. And Umno Baru has lost. But now you see the “latest’ Umno, which is created by Umno people entering through Bersatu. No need!! No Need!! We are fed up with Barisan Nasional. Don’t just throw away Barisan and create Pakatan Nasional, when it is the same people.
“If you bring in Pakatan Nasional, be ready to see street protests. There’s no need,” said Haris.
The Pakatan Harapan presidential council is set to meet today, the first time it has met since November last year, with a key agenda said to be to get Dr Mahathir to set an exact date for the transition to happen.