PKR leader Shamsul Iskandar has claimed to be among the pioneers of a movement against former prime minister Najib Razak, which had angered his party president Anwar Ibrahim, who was then in jail.
This was because the movement was initiated by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was still the arch nemesis of Anwar in 2015.
He said Mahathir’s movement focused on Najib’s kleptocratic practices and the 1MDB scandals.
Mahathir had used that movement to build support for the Citizens’ Declaration, to gather as many people as he could to ensure a strong opposition, Shamsul said in an interview with New Mandala editor Rebecca Gidley.
He said they were targeting 1 million signatures.
“I felt very personally involved because I was in one of the early groups of the Citizens’ Declaration,” he said, adding that there were only 40 members at the time, making him one the pioneers.
“But, of course, Anwar Ibrahim was very mad with me for my involvement.
“I actually received a few letters from him, from behind bars in prison, that questioned my move to support Dr Mahathir’s Citizens’ Declaration.
“But I must say that during that time, my analysis was in the absence of a clear leader of the opposition,” the PKR information chief and deputy primary industries and commodities minister said.
He was replying to a question on how the “new alliance” was formed to contest the 2018 general election, and on challenges faced before GE14.
Shamsul said Mahathir’s readiness to go against Najib was most important and “it was this kind of God-given thing for us, and I saw its potential”.
He said he explained to Anwar how the movement could mobilise “forces within the opposition” and ensured that Anwar and Mahathir meet to settle their past differences.
Shamsul, an ardent supporter of Anwar, said the “journey” began when Mahathir came forward and openly said that Najib was wrong in the way the administration was run.
This led to Mahathir forming PPBM, which opened the door for the formation of Pakatan Harapan consisting of four parties – PPBM, PKR, Amanah and DAP.
“I remember vividly at that time … the peak of our discussions was the decision taken by the presidential council, through which we managed to negotiate the number of seats before the election (to name the prime minister and deputy prime minister-designate).
“I was there at that historical moment. There were only three of us from Keadilan (PKR) -myself, Rafizi Ramil and Nurul Izzah.
“So, the three of us, together with the rest of the other party members and ministers, negotiated a clear arrangement that there would be a certain seat regimen: 54 for Bersatu (PPBM), 53 for PKR and the rest.
“And because of that, we named Mahathir as our prime minister and Wan Azizah (Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) as deputy prime minister,” he said.
Shamsul said they hoped Anwar would be released as soon as they took over as the government and pardoned, and to be the eighth prime minister.