Five days after the historic handshake between Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the newly registered Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) said it was prepared to make the former opposition leader’s freedom part of its agenda.
“There are some who ask me if I (agree) to Anwar’s release,” said PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at a PKR programme in Negeri Sembilan yesterday.
“If we can offer a new leadership, we will think of Anwar’s plight. We can’t expect Najib to release Anwar,” he said.
The remarks were the clearest yet approval from the former deputy prime minister over calls from PKR to release Anwar, who is now serving his five-year prison sentence.
Muhyiddin however reminded that there were also other pressing issues to be iron out.
He said he too sympathised with Anwar having to spend time in prison.
Dr Mahathir took the nation by surprise when he turned up at the High Court on September 5 to greet his arch nemesis Anwar, who was brought to court from prison to file his legal challenge of the National Security Council Act.
Both leaders shook hands, their first meeting 18 years after Anwar’s dramatic sacking which sparked a prolonged political crisis.
Yesterday, the prime minister’s press aide claimed that Muhyiddin would now be mere puppet and would have to take orders from Anwar, following his reconciliation with Dr Mahathir.
“Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s political future is now dependent on Datuk Seri Anwar, as it will be he that says yes or no to Tun Mahathir’s pleadings.
“So Tan Sri Muhyiddin is now subservient to Datuk Seri Anwar,” said Datuk Seri Tengku Sariffuddin, in the latest of a series of attacks using his position in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin, who was sacked from Umno a year after his dismissal from the Cabinet in July 2015, said there was no way he would return to Umno.
He said there was no longer hope for Umno’s revival, and called for a “people’s front” to challenge the current government.
“All political parties must also form a strong frontier and agree for one-to-one contests (against Barisan Nasional),” he added.
As such, he said there was a need for PPBM and other opposition parties to agree on a common manifesto for the next general election.
Meanwhile, speaking at the same event, Dr Mahathir again made clear that he was committed to bring down Barisan Nasional and Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the coming polls.
“In the past I did not form a new party after quitting Umno,” he said, recalling his decision to give up his Umno membership during Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s premiership.
He said it was important that Najib was defeated at the next polls.
He added that BN’s victory was not due to its strength, but due to a disunited opposition.
“But if they and PAS unite, we can defeat BN,” said the former prime minister who led BN to five general election victories during his 23-year rule.