Commentary Politics

Anwar’s merry-go-round of a succession drama

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

A commentary by Zaidi Azmi

July 2, 2019

LIKE most Raya-do invites of PKR-elected representatives, that of Kota Damansara’s featured Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in it.

But instead of captioning Anwar as party president, the said invite had this written under his photo: “Perdana Menteri ke-8 (Dalam Masa Menunggu)

In English, the rather peculiar caption means ‘Eighth Prime Minister (in-waiting)’ which is nonsensical as such a post does not exist.

To the more sceptical Malaysian, this probably sounds like a tongue-in-cheek jab at Anwar given his obsession with being PM but those in the know have vouched that such is not the case.

“YB Shatiri Mansor (Kota Damansara assemblyman) is a strong supporter of Anwar. He’s a member of Rafizi Ramli’s (party vice-president) pro-Anwar group called the ‘Reformasi 20 Tahun’,” said a party worker who wanted anonymity.

Despite the initial clarity of his supposed succession – which will take place two years after Pakatan Harapan won the May 9 GE14 last year – the plot of the handover has, for some reason, seem ever so murky.

And the latest remark by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying that he will not be PM for more than three years has birthed even more insecurity among Anwar’s supporters as they believe that Mahathir had just upped the time-frame, more so when the contentious remark came hot on the heels of the gay sex controversy dogging PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali.

While it may be mere speculations, the ground has been rife with talk on how the remark was a supposed warning shot to Anwar, who they believe had a role in the hoo-ha implicating Azmin, who was recently seen as Anwar’s contender as the next PM.

Both Anwar and Mahathir however, had denied these claims, with the latter clarifying that his controversial remark was in response to a CNBC question regarding his mission to reduce Malaysia’s debt-to-GDP ratio.

And as for Anwar, he has once again reiterated that Mahathir will keep his promise – a soundbite that Anwar has been echoing ever since he earned the royal pardon that got him out of jail.

But when the lack of an explicit time-frame regarding his handover was floated about, Anwar replied that he was confident simply because the matter had been inked in a pre-GE14 agreement called ‘Muafakat Pakatan’.

The problem with that document is that there is no mention of when the succession will take place, hence the reason his supporters tend to treat Mahathir’s actions with utmost suspicion, so much so that Anwar had last January admitted that some in PKR had a different agenda.

So, things sort of ended up back to square one.

“You can’t really blame the press for asking these questions again and again because the key players offer comments and within the public sphere, there still seems to be some scepticism as to whether the transition will be smooth sailing. Unless it isn’t,” tweeted Malay Mail assistant news editor Shazwan Mustafa Kamal.

And on Sunday, Anwar injected yet another narrative into this already confusing merry-go-round – that he was annoyed over the constant renewed spotlight of the handover, saying that it made it looked like he was obsessed to be PM.

Wait, what!?

So all those incessant soundbites on him becoming the “Eighth PM”, that he dished out at almost every political rally was him not being obsessed with the post?

If such is truly the case, then one cannot help but wonder what’s it really like if Anwar becomes obsessed over the post.

But in all honesty, this was probably a claim that he ought to tell the marines, not us.

Nevertheless, Anwar is right though. It is simply of no use for him to be obsessed over his prospect in becoming PM because at the end of the day, the matter is entirely out of his hands.

Pop quiz! The one who can make such a decision recently said that he likes a purple giant of a villain who eradicated half of the universe’s population with a finger snap.

If lady luck is on Anwar’s side, then good for him but should he get the short end of the stick, he will likely share the same fate as Emily from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride – always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Or in Anwar’s case, always the PM-to-be, never the PM.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at