The political rumour mill surrounding Pakatan Harapan has shifted into higher gear, in anticipation of several major developments next week.
As it is, many Malaysians are already getting dizzy with the pace of comments and speculation on a cabinet reshuffle, premiership succession plan and the alleged formation of a new alliance called Pakatan Nasional comprising Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Umno and Pas.
Just two days ago, Sarawak Report claimed that members of parliament from the three parties — plus PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and his allies — were “pressured” to sign a statutory declaration to support Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister until the next general election.
More recently, sources in PH told the New Straits Times “something big is happening soon”.
They point to a PH presidential council meeting, expected to take place next Thursday or Friday, where the council will allegedly pressure Dr Mahathir to step down by May and hand over the reins to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Both leaders have declared that they will see through the succession plan announced before PH won the 14th General Election, but speculation over the exact timing of the handover has been a thorny issue ever since.
Sources gave NST a heads-up that Dr Mahathir would make “an important announcement” early next week.
Details are sketchy, but three possible scenarios have been mooted.
Scenario one could see the prime minister announcing a large number of opposition MPs joining PH, and these MPs would pledge their support to Dr Mahathir to stay on as prime minister until the current term ends.
“This way, if the PH Presidential Council insists on Tun resigning, he will just ask them if they are with him or not, since he already has enough support,” one source said.
The second scenario might see Dr Mahathir announcing a massive cabinet reshuffle that would hurt the chances of some cabinet members remaining in Putrajaya.
“Dr Mahathir already said there will be a cabinet reshuffle, so this is expected.
“He is not too pleased with some cabinet members’ performance,” said another source.
The third scenario, said one PH source, is the appointment of a second deputy prime minister, possibly from Bersatu leaders.
Asked how the appointment of a second DPM would be accepted, the source said: “We never had a woman DPM before, but we do now. Is it really that far fetched?
“Besides, Tun is prime minister and he has the power to appoint a second DPM if he wants to.”
Nevertheless, some believe there will unlikely be any changes to the cabinet until the results of the Bersatu polls are announced in April. It would make sense for the prime minister to include new faces in Bersatu’s top leadership in his cabinet.
In all likelihood, the “important announcement” might not even be about PH politics at all. There are still many pressing national matters that require the government’s focus.
This includes the proposed stimulus package to boost the economy and cushion the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, which has taken a toll on the tourism industry and business community.
Dr Mahathir also recently took over the education portfolio and pledged to realign policies to complement the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 blueprint, which is aimed at reducing the wealth gap and transform Malaysia into a high-income nation.