Malaysiakini News

Some in Anwar's stronghold soften to prospect of Dr M as PM again

Susan Loone  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency in Penang has always been the stronghold of Anwar Ibrahim.

In 1999, when a bitter feud with the then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad culminated in Anwar landing in prison, voters in Permatang Pauh, who had cast their ballots for Anwar and BN since 1982, ditched the ruling coalition in favour of Anwar's wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

As far as the voters were concerned, the charges and accusations against Anwar were fabricated by Mahathir and those aligned with him.

Close to two decades later, the Malaysian political landscape witnessed a seismic shift with Mahathir and Anwar putting their acrimonious past aside to battle Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

The former premier is now the chairperson of the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, which includes PKR, a party born from Anwar's Reformasi movement against Mahathir.

Headed by Anwar's wife, PKR and another Harapan component – DAP – had always maintained that Anwar is their choice for the prime minister's post.

However, this changed when Mahathir crossed the political divide. With Anwar in prison once again, Mahathir is now poised to be Harapan's official choice for the prime minister's post.

There is even talk that Anwar had accepted this plan, which is seen as crucial to convince the Malay electorate to cast their ballots for the opposition coalition – which Umno claims dances to the tune of the predominantly-Chinese DAP, posing a threat to the special position of the Malays and Islam.

While a significant number of opposition and Reformasi supporters have baulked at the prospect of Mahathir, who was prime minister for two decades, assuming the leadership reins once again, a straw poll by Malaysiakini suggested the opposite was true for some Permatang Pauh voters.

Yes, he can be PM again

Village development and security committee member Ahmad Baharuddin, 59, from Penanti said if Anwar's family can forgive Mahathir after their ordeal, he can do so as well.

"Who are we to hold a grudge against him? If Anwar and his family can forgive Mahathir, why not us?” he asked.

He believed that both Mahathir and Anwar have the necessary track record and skills to lead the nation, but the latter will always be his preferred choice...

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