PETALING JAYA: Several political analysts say Pakatan Harapan should let its chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad be appointed adviser and not interim prime minister, should the coalition take over Putrajaya in the next general election (GE14).
Universiti Utara Malaysia’s political analyst Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the era of Mahathir is over and he might not be as effective as before in running the country.
“It might be counter-productive in appointing Mahathir as an interim prime minister. People want younger leaders to be put in charge,” he told FMT, urging PH to name candidates who will become prime minister and deputy prime minister, instead of having an interim arrangement.
Azizuddin said that though Mahathir might help to garner support from the Malays for PH by being named as the interim PM, the younger generation may feel otherwise if that is the only option on offer in GE14.
“That is why, I believe Mahathir can become an adviser for the coalition government instead,” he said.
Azizuddin believes some of the blame for the lack of young leaders in the opposition who could be PM candidates lay in the hands of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
“Anwar should have named and groomed someone younger four to five years ago. That is why there is no one to take over from him now.
“The opposition has selected a lot of young leaders in various parliamentary seats but the problem is there are not many opportunities for them to be national leaders to replace Anwar,” he said.
“Perhaps, Anwar thought such a person might challenge him. But now the situation has become a problem instead.”
Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Azmi Hassan said even though Mahathir was heading the PH coalition, both PKR and DAP may be suspicious of the former prime minister.
“This is because Mahathir might make decisions without the input of other PH leaders,” Azmi said.
As for Universiti Pertahanan Kebangsaan political analyst Aruna Gopinath, the fear over Mahathir not wanting to let go might be an issue.
“Mahathir might become a domineering figure and not step down from being the interim prime minister,” she said, adding however that the PH chairman is a good administrator, hence would be suitable for the adviser role.
‘Mahathir has foresight, a unifying factor’
Mahathir’s party PPBM, however, has come to his defence, saying that any new government needs to look at fixing the country’s institutions if the opposition coalition wins GE14.
PPBM supreme council member Tariq Ismail said Mahathir was still a crowd puller.
“During ceramahs, people come to listen to him. He has foresight and is a unifying factor. The people come to listen to his side of the story too.
“The nation needs to focus on strengthening the broken parliamentary system and judiciary as well as fix other institutions that are not working properly,” he said, calling for people not to focus on who is going to be PM.
Asked if he agreed with political analysts who say Mahathir might override other PH leaders in deciding how the country was run or on policies, Tariq said being in the PPBM supreme council has given him a first hand view of how Mahathir works.
“He would listen to both sides and make decisions based on the majority decision,” he said, adding that with age Mahathir might have mellowed down from his earlier days, when he led Umno, Barisan Nasional and the federal government.