PKR risks losing top posts in power play, says analyst

Some analysts cast doubt about Wan Azizah making way for Anwar Ibrahim in the Cabinet.

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst speculates that PKR could lose its grip on the top two posts in the country if Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail makes way for her husband, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, in hopes of speeding up his claim to take over as prime minister.

Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said “this strategy is fraught with danger” as PKR might not only lose the DPM’s post but also the PM’s post, referring to Pakatan Harapan’s agreement that Anwar would take over from Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.

There have been growing calls for Mahathir to make clear when the transfer of power would take place. Wan Azizah has also been urged to give up the deputy premiership as a means of securing Anwar’s claim to succeed Mahathir.

“But this strategy is only applicable if the handover is a sure thing,” he said.

Azmi Hassan.

Azmi had doubts that Mahathir would make way for Anwar soon, in the light of the sex video scandal implicating Cabinet minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, who some believe to be Mahathir’s preferred successor.

“Given that Tun’s grasp on the post seems more tighter than before, I don’t see that Wan Azizah will relinquish her DPM post with all the uncertainties, either,” he added.

Mahathir was supposed to hold office only for two years; in May, he stated that he would hand over the reins to Anwar as promised but no timeframe had been set for the transfer of power.

Azmi said the prospects of Anwar succeeding Mahathir now appeared to be more of a “distant dream” rather than a foregone conclusion.

It is not a good idea for Wan Azizah to step aside. “With her still in the Cabinet, some sort of internal pressure can be applied to Tun to fulfil his obligation regarding the PM post.”

Oh Ei Sun.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun said Wan Azizah’s resignation would force Mahathir’s hand, but Mahathir could very well replace her with somebody else such as Azmin.

“What is happening now is anything but smooth and ordinary,” he told FMT. “It is abundantly clear that Mahathir has no intention of having Anwar succeed him.”

Another analyst, Kamarul Zaman Yusuf of Universiti Utara Malaysia, said there was nothing at all in Pakatan Harapan’s agreement about Wan Azizah resigning or Anwar becoming DPM before taking over as PM.

Kamarul Zaman Yusuf.

“What (is mentioned) is just that Anwar needs to participate in the government and later become PM – and participating in the government can mean anything,” he added.

Kamarul said Wan Azizah’s resignation would serve no purpose. “If she resigns then it is entirely up to the PM to appoint whoever he wants or even not to appoint anyone at all to the post.”