An Umno election hopeful, Lokman Noor Adam, believes it is only a matter of time before either Anwar Ibrahim or Dr Mahathir Mohamad returns to Umno, and foresees a breaking up of the Pakatan Harapan government.
Lokman, a former PKR insider, said there were already signs of unhappiness between Anwar and Mahathir. “It is either Mahathir or Anwar who will join Umno first. There is no way Anwar can work with Mahathir,” he said.
He told FMT in an interview yesterday: “I can assure you the present government would not be together when their term ends”. (Pakatan Harapan forms the federal government, and will hold power until the next elections, expected in 2023).
Lokman, a PKR founding member who returned to Umno, said the conflict between Anwar and Mahathir could be seen in the way Pakatan Harapan members condemned Anwar indirectly in social media postings.
“Even Mahathir is concerned and wants to get more support from his party. Mahathir would be lucky if he remains as the prime minister for long; I expect Anwar to be the prime minister any time after he is elected as an MP,” he said.
Anwar was released from prison on a royal pardon in May and has said he would stand for election as an MP in the coming months, but would only be a backbencher.
Pakatan Harapan have an agreement that Anwar will take over as prime minister from Dr Mahathir, but no time frame has been specified and Mahathir has remained vague on how long he would hold the position.
Lokman, 45, a former spokesman for the Finance Ministry, is a candidate in the Umno elections being held on June 30. He hopes to be elected either as Umno Youth leader or to the Supreme Council.
He claimed that Mahathir had a hand in Umno’s party elections, being held on June 30. “I know Mahathir is sending his men. Some of them are offering funds to our leadership so that they can have a Pribumi-Umno friendly leadership. We know it,” he said.
He said Mahathir would need Umno friends as his party, PPBM, holds only 13 seats in the Dewan Rakyat, making him “very vulnerable” and liable to being “kicked out as prime minister any time.”
Pakatan Harapan and its Sabah allies hold 125 seats. PKR holds 50, DAP 42, Amanah 11, Warisan 8, UPKO 1.
Umno won 54 seats, making the party the biggest single party in the Dewan, said Lokman.
The other opposition parties are a Sarawak coalition holding 19 seats, and PAS and partners with 18.
Lokman said he understood Anwar’s feelings about working with Mahathir, who had dismissed Anwar as deputy prime minister and also expelled him from the party in 1998.
“I know how Anwar feels, I know how his family feels. They can pretend but they can’t fool their supporters and those who had been their supporters before. That is why PH may not stick as one till their term ends.”
Lokman left Umno after Anwar’s expulsion and was a founding member of PKR in 1999. He was appointed to the party’s supreme council in 2002. Lokman was expelled two years later for questioning the use of party funds. He returned to Umno in 2009.
He said Barisan Nasional was defeated at last month’s general election mainly because of a failure to counter Pakatan Harapan’s attacks on 1MDB and the flow of RM2.6 billion through bank accounts of former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“When the opposition spoke on these issues, the people willingly made it viral but they were not listening to our explanations,” he said.
He believed that there would be a return of support from Malaysian Chinese voters, who had solidly backed Pakatan Harapan, after all the Malay-based parties, such as PAS, PKR or PPBM and Warisan, joined hands.
“When we are able to unite the Malays, the Chinese will come back to us. Even DAP would join us. The Chinese would know they would lose out representation in politics if they don’t join hands,” Lokman said.
However, changes would be needed in Umno for it to be seen as the people’s representative and not as an elitist party.
“The way we carry ourselves, what we wear, the cars we drive – people feel we are involved in corruption. But most of the MPs were rich even before becoming an MP.”
He said Umno would look into ways of strengthening the party after its party elections on June 30.