Commentary Politics

Um… will PKR ever stop hitting the snooze button?

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

My Take – A column by Zaidi Azmi

July 1, 2020

CONCEITED was what it sounded like but Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was not entirely wrong when he said Anwar Ibrahim needed help to be prime minister. The only problem is that when that will be is anybody’s guess, if at all it happens.

True that Anwar’s party, PKR, won the most number parliamentary seats — 47 — in GE14 compared to others in Pakatan Harapan but does this tell an accurate picture of PKR’s clout?

Um, actually no.

A simple maths to determine its clout based on the number of state seats it won in GE14 (per each state) show that PKR only had strong presence in Penang and Selangor – at 35 and 37.5 per cent respectively.

Hardly surprising.

In GE14, Perlis became PKR’s fourth highest state where it had clout at 20 per cent, but the state has only 15 seats, of which PKR won only three.

But what was surprising was the fact that despite making its electoral debut in GE10, PKR still could not penetrate Kelantan and Terengganu, where it remained unchanged in GE14.

Written below is a more detailed and succinct overview of PKR’s clout starting from GE11.

(Disclaimer: For tangibility, objectivity and relevance, PKR’s clout is measured based on the number of seats won in each election.

Perlis: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 1/3; State: 3/15 (20%)

Not much can be said about PKR’s presence in this northern-most state. It did not win any in GE11 and 12. In terms of state seats, it won three in GE13 which it retained in GE14 – the election in which it won its first parliamentary seat, Kangar.

Kedah: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 7/15; State: 7/36 (19.4%)

While it did not win any seat in GE11, PKR had always managed to maintain its clout through four state seats in GE12, 13 and 14; namely, Bakar Arang, Sidam, Lunas and Kulim. In GE14, the tally grew to eight.

As for its parliamentary victories, PKR’s tally was reduced to four in GE13 compared to the five that it won in GE12. But in GE14, it won seven.

Kelantan: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 0/14; State: 0/45 (0%)

Zero parliamentary and state seats in GE14. Only in GE12 that PKR managed to win at three parliamentary constituencies, namely; Ketereh, Tanah Merah and Machang, only to lose it to Umno in GE13 and 14.

PKR only won the state seat of Guchil in GE12 and continued to retain it in GE13 but lost its hold to Pas in GE14.

Terengganu: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 0/8; State: 0/32 (0%)

PKR has never won any parliamentary seats here since its debut in GE11. In terms of state seats, it’s only unprecedented victory in Terengganu was at Bandar in GE13 which it then lost to Pas in GE14.

Penang: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 4/13; State: 14/40 (35%)

The second largest state that PKR has a clout on. Despite only winning the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency in GE11, the tally then grew to four in GE12 but dropped to three in GE13. In GE14, PKR won four parliamentary seats in Penang.

In terms of state seats, PKR had made observable inroads in Malay-majority constituencies that have more than 20 per cent Chinese in it. The single state seat that it won in GE11 grew to nine in GE12 and ten in GE13. By GE14, PKR had 14 seats in Penang.

Perak: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 3/24; State: 4/59 (6.7%)

PKR only started winning the parliamentary seats in Perak in GE12 where it won three seats – a tally that it had consistently maintained all the way to GE14. Of the three seats, PKR has a tight grip on Sungai Siput and Gopeng ever since it won them in GE12.

Contrary to its consistency on the parliamentary level, PKR had been on a downward trend in terms of its clout in Perak’s state constituencies. The seven seats that it won in GE12 were reduced to five in GE13 and dropped to four in GE14.

Pahang: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 2/14; State: 2/42 (4.7%)

Similar to its performance in Perak, PKR also has a limited reach in Pahang, consistently retaining the two parliamentary seats of Kuantan and Indera Mahkota since it first won them in GE12.

The number two seemed to be PKR’s magic number here as the party had only been winning two state seats – Semambu and Teruntum – since GE13.

Selangor: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 10/22; State: 21/56 (37.5%)

The state in which PKR is most popular in. The party had won nine parliamentary seats in G12 and did not lose any of it in GE13 and GE14 it won one more seat, totalling to 10 seats.

In GE14, PKR’s won big time at state level, where its previous 14 seats ballooned to 21. The party even made inroads in constituencies that it had never contested in the past such as Paya Jaras, Sabak and Lembah Jaya.

Kuala Lumpur: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 4/13 (30.7%)

Lembah Pantai, Batu, Wangsa Maju and Bandar Tun Razak were the four constituencies that PKR won in GE12. And while these seats were retained in GE13, the party had, in GE14, failed to contest in Batu. However, the tally still remained at four as PKR bested Umno – a seat the latter had never once lost.

Negeri Sembilan: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 1/8; State: 6/36 (16.6%)

PKR had only been winning one parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan since GE12 which was Teluk Kemang that was eventually renamed to Port Dickson in GE14.

Prior to GE14, PKR only had a strong grip on three state seats in Negeri Sembilan, namely; Sikamat, Chuah and Port Dickson – now called Teluk Kemang. However, in GE14, the party added three more seats to its roster: Paroi, Pilah and Labu – that were traditionally Umno’s.

Melaka: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 2/6; State: 3/28 (10.7%)

The party had a late start in Melaka, tasting its first parliamentary victory only in GE13 where it won the Bukit Katil constituency which was later on renamed as Hang Tuah Jaya. In GE14, it retained Hang Tuah Jaya and won Tangga Batu.

At state level, PKR had only managed to win seats in GE14, this was so despite the party had contested in seven seats since GE12 and 13. The three seats that it won in GE14 were Rembia, Machap Jaya, Kelebang.

Johor: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 7/26; State: 5/56 (8.9%)

Similar to Melaka, PKR only had its maiden parliamentary victory in Johor in GE13, winning Batu Pahat. Then in GE14, it won six more seats – Segamat, Sekijang, Ledang, Tebrau, Pasir Gudang and even Johor Bahru, where newcomer Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir somehow bested Umno heavyweight, Tan Sri Shahrir Samad.

The first state seat that PKR in Johor was in GE13 – Bukit Batu. However, in GE14, the party managed to make significant inroad, retaining Bukit Batu whilst securing four more seats, namely: Pemanis, Bukit Naning, Semerah and Tiram.

Sabah: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 3/25; State: 2/60 (3.3%)

Like Johor, PKR finally won a parliamentary seat in Sabah in GE13 – Penampang. It however lost Penampang in GE14 but managed to nab three seats: Putatan, Ranau and Tawau.

The opposite however, happened at the state level. The seven seats that it bagged in GE13 were reduced to two – Inanam and Api-Api – in GE14.

Sarawak: seats won in GE14: Parliament: 4/31; State (2016): 3/82 (4%)

Here the party only managed to up its single parliamentary seat – that it first won in GE13 – to four in GE14. And in terms of its clout at state level, PKR has, since Sarawak’s 2011 and 2016 elections, won the same seats: Batu Lintang, Krian and Ba’kelalan.

In a nutshell…

So after 21 years of politicking and after going through five general elections, PKR only has little to almost no strong, winnable clout and following anywhere except Penang and Selangor.

But somehow Anwar’s PKR continues to sack dissenters and nonchalantly allowing members to quit in droves ever since the infamous February 24 sacking of the rebel 11.

On Monday it axed its Women’s chief Haniza Talha for undisclosed reasons, 18 days after her deputy Dr. Daroyah Alwi left along with 35 others, citing lack of confidence in Anwar.

Surely Anwar should realise that in Malaysian politics women make up the bulk of those running a party’s machinery.

Given what’s been happening, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the chances of PKR repeating its GE14 success, which could turn out to be a one-off wonder.



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