One step closer but not easier, say analysts on Anwar’s big win

Anwar Ibrahim has been promised the top post under a deal agreed by Pakatan Harapan leaders. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim’s journey to becoming the eighth prime minister of Malaysia will not be as easy despite his strong win in the Port Dickson by-election yesterday, analysts say.

Kamarul Zaman Yusoff of Universiti Utara Malaysia says a lot could happen in Pakatan Harapan (PH) from now on.

And Anwar cannot afford to make any mistakes as he takes his final march to Putrajaya to end his long wait for the prime ministerial post.

Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Pawi somewhat agrees.

He said Anwar’s win might not go down well with his rivals, including those from within PH.

For one, they may feel their position is threatened by those close to Anwar, says Awang Azman.

“He will be tested on issues in the country and the party, and his decisions may affect his popularity and support from his own party and PH.

“Now that he really carries weight, and will officially be in power in PKR and the PM-in-waiting, his every move will be watched.”

Awang Azman said Anwar would need to show patience and be seen as supportive of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to avoid any public perception that could yet again derail his path to premiership.

Awang Azman said Anwar must also show he is in control of his party, PKR.

He said although Anwar could now join the Cabinet, he should stay out of the administration for now.

“He has to show he is PM material, by not trying to overshadow Mahathir and give him the space to complete the mission of stabilising the economy.”

Another analyst, Andrew Aeria, described Anwar’s win as empathic and one that silences all his critics.

“Despite the views and comments of the dissenting and chattering classes over the past month, the Port Dickson electorate endorsed him as their representative in Parliament.”

But he said the by-election also highlighted the fact that there was now a vacuum in the country’s politics: the absence of a coherent opposition discourse.

“While this is understandable given the Barisan Nasional’s utter collapse, it bodes ill for the development of a healthy democracy in the years ahead if this trend continues,” he added.

Anwar defeated six other candidates yesterday, garnering a total of 31,016 votes, leaving his closest rival from PAS, Mohd Nazari Mokhtar, far behind with only 7,456 votes.

His 23,560-vote majority surpassed that of former MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah in the May elections, despite a low voter turnout of 58.3%.