Does PH need a leadership change?

Anwar’s latest inability to secure the numbers to form a govt evokes the question whether PH needs to name an alternative leader

THE Opposition coalition — Pakatan Harapan (PH) — should decide whether it needs a leadership change to prepare for the 15th General Election (GE15). 

Numerous talks have surfaced on the possibility of replacing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (picture) as the Opposition leader, following his latest inability to secure the majority to form a government, despite the downfall of Perikatan Nasional (PN) last week.

Former PKR leader Tan Poh Lai had reportedly proposed for PH to move beyond Anwar, citing the aforementioned reasons as one of the factors for the coalition to move forward sans the Port Dickson MP. University of Tasmania professor of Asian studies Dr James Chin said PH needs to name an alternative leader if it intends to move past Anwar.

“Firstly, they need to name the alternative leader. Of course it will not be satisfactory for everyone, but if Pakatan is serious, then they should find someone who has the ability to glue all parties just like Anwar,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR)

Chin said any decision should be decisive as prolonged speculations would dent the coalition’s ability to bounce back in GE15. 

A DAP leader who spoke under the condition of anonymity told TMR there have been talks of another leader to replace Anwar, but it is still at a preliminary stage. 

“Last year, he (Anwar) promised he is ready to step down if he doesn’t get enough numbers, and it’s clear that he does not, so we should be preparing ahead.”

The senior member of the party said change of leadership does not mean that Anwar would be sidelined, rather, it would provide fresh insight to the coalition.

A PKR leader who spoke under condition of anonymity acknowledged that there have been talks of a leadership change in PH, but believes any decision should unfold progressively and unanimously. 

“Yes, there are people who think he should step down because he could not get the numbers and there are several ways to resolve it. First, it will be up to Datuk Seri (Anwar) to decide if he is still interested in claiming the premiership. 

“Second, the Opposition has to collectively discuss how to return the mandate to the people through a comprehensive strategy. Whether (Datuk Seri) Anwar thinks he still should be leading the coalition, it is his personal decision. 

“For example, this time around, Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) didn’t offer himself for the premiership, so PH gave the offer to Anwar and that’s how the leadership should evolve,” the leader said. 

So far, there has been no official conversation related to the matter among the PH component parties, but the leader expects it to come about soon. 

“We have to remember, it is not a contest between two individuals, it is a contest between two political divides,” the MP said. 

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali opined that Anwar’s leadership is still relevant due to his historic “Reformasi” movement and his capacity in uniting parties. 

“Even though many of his followers had turned their back on him, that does not mean that he has lost the confidence of the people.” 

On whether the 74-year-old leader should let go of his leadership in PH and stop contesting for the premiership post, Mazlan said while Anwar could have the leadership quality, it does not always guarantee the prime ministership. 

“What we can see happening to Datuk Seri Anwar is that he has the quality of uniting parties, but perhaps the post is just a little too far for him to reach.”

By : AZREEN HANI & SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH – TMR

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