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Mukhriz calls for overhaul of leadership in Pakatan, says Anwar’s time ‘has passed’

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR) – While not discounting the possibility of working with Pakatan Harapan in the 15th General Election, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir called for the overhaul of the coalition’s leadership, including its prime-minister candidate.

The Pejuang President said the time has passed for Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to become the premier, should the coalition win in the next election.

“I think his (Anwar) time has passed. That’s my feeling and a lot of people have been saying that, in fact within Pakatan itself.

“It’s time for a new group of people to take over (the coalition’s leadership),” he said in an interview with business station BFM.

On working with Pakatan for GE15, he said, “We are still open to discussion. But we have certain issues, about the Malay electorates on how they feel about the coalition.”

The former Kedah mentri besar also said Pejuang would contest in 120 seats, targetting rural Malay and semi-urban seats.

He said there was a reason for the party to vie for more than half the parliamentary seats in the country.

“When we were in Bersatu (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia), we only contested in 52 seats.

“Even if we had won all that time, we won’t be able to have the majority. We had to be in a coalition, as we were in Pakatan, to be able to govern the country.

“In our case this time, we need to show and convince the rakyat that we are serious, and we want to contest as many seats as we can,” he said.

Mukhriz said the party had not ruled out the possibility of working with political parties to be the government of the day.

“We are very close to parties, Warisan and Muda.

“After taking up 120 seats, there are another 102 seats that we won’t be contesting.

“It would be a waste for us if we don’t do something about those seats. We need to form electoral pacts and we have not decided which way to go yet.

“We need to work with others as well. The political scenario has also changed somewhat as people are not just looking at political parties. They also look at the candidates.

“Chances are non-governmental organisations that have been very active in certain constituencies will put forward their own candidates under a certain banner. And I think we can work with them,” he said.

On staying out of the memorandum of understanding that Pakatan signed with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in September, Mukhriz said Pejuang needed to be seen as being ‘independent’.

“We need to be free to convey our thoughts in Parliament.

“We felt that if there was any form of reward from the government, it might diminish our ability to be critical of the government when it needs to be criticised,” he said.