Commentary Politics

Ouch, Anwar has decided he’s your next PM

Anwar (left) and Azmin are not quite looking in the same direction now.

Written by Aziz Hassan

September 21, 2019.

Recollections & Reflections

JUST as we thought the country could move on to other more important and urgent matters, one man whose only ambition looks to be wanting to occupy the top chair in the country has done it again – talk about when he could be the next prime minister.

Because he seems so pre-occupied at wanting to be PM8, former deputy PM Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim doesn’t appear to realise from remarks made by active and retired politicians that talk about this transition is so unnecessary and a distraction Malaysia doesn’t need, given the many issues the government has to deal with, especially the economy as a whole and the fiscal situation in particular.

When he talks about his ambition, Anwar always refers to what was apparently agreed to by the Pakatan Harapan leadership before last year’s general elections that he would be the one to succeed Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad after two years. But it must be remembered that since then Mahathir has been singing a different tune.

In a recent interview Anwar mentioned about being PM sometime next year, possibly in May, but also said that he was not being too petty about the exact time for the hand-over. Mahathir, on the other hand, repeated his stand in relation to the country’s problems.

Even if eventually Mahathir decides it’s time for him to go, any change will also depend on the situation then, that is if Anwar himself is free of any contentious situation.

Right now Anwar needs reminding that regardless of the deal the Pakatan leadership agreed to, everything depends firstly on Mahathir’s goodwill. Following Anwar’s interview Mahathir said that he would announce later the handover date, without the slightest hint of when that would happen, while repeating what he had been saying all along – “I’ll keep my promise”. Wiser Malaysians will have taken note of another remark often repeated by Mahathir and that is about first nursing the country back to health, which no one expects to happen soon or anytime next year due to many factors, including external ones. This reasoning is interpreted by some to mean that Mahathir intends to stay in office for as long as possible, if his health permits.

The other crucial test is the nominee to be PM must also secure the majority support of Members of Parliament and it must be repeated that because of the factions in PKR that have been avoiding each other since a few months ago and with one of them boycotting party events and meetings, Anwar’s path to the premiership will not be a stroll in the park. Rather it’s more like having to navigate past a pit of burning charcoal.

If he can’t win over enough of his own MPs, Anwar will have to look elsewhere beyond the DAP, which many believe will support him. Those who have followed politics keenly will know that many politicians in Umno and PAS do not trust Anwar and some have gone on record to make this clear.

Given the problems confronting PKR, Anwar’s immediate task should be to patch up the differences but for some strange reasons he has allowed the situation to linger on for months and with persons representing each faction making public statements which clearly indicate that the problem between some senior party officials is indeed real.

The question must also be asked about how someone who has not acted decisively and with a firm hand to solve a party dispute could be expected to deal effectively with more important matters affecting the country.

That the faction aligned to Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Anwar’s number two in PKR and his one-time most trusted aide, is allowed to continue to boycott events and leadership meetings is a situation unheard of in any party in Malaysia. Others would have taken disciplinary action much earlier to nip the problem in the bud but not Anwar’s PKR. Only he knows what is stopping him from having PKR suspend the membership of those in the opposing faction or issuing a show-cause letter.

Tanjung Piai test for new Umno-PAS alliance

Following the death of Pribumi Bersatu MP Datuk Dr. Md. Farid Md. Rafik on Saturday, the by-election to come will be the first test for the newly formalised Umno-PAS alliance, although it must be said that in last year’s election the Barisan Nasional was represented by the MCA.

Farid won by a narrow majority of 524 and had a total of 21,255 votes but the total by MCA and PAS combined was 23,693. There is of course no guarantee the voting trend will go exactly the way it happened on May 8 last year but the result from there should give an indication of how it will turn out this time if the majority of voters still maintain the same party loyalty.

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About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.