Time to move on from Anwar Ibrahim, say analysts

Once a charismatic leader, Anwar Ibrahim has lost a significant amount of support in recent years, analysts say.

PETALING JAYA: Several political analysts have cast doubt on the likelihood that Anwar Ibrahim will become prime minister should Pakatan Harapan return to power.

Ahmad Fauzi Abd Hamid of Universiti Sains Malaysia, Lee Kuok Tiung of Universiti Malaysia Sabah and former lecturer Jeniri Amir told FMT they believed Anwar was no longer as charismatic as he used to be and said he should make way for younger leaders to fill his shoes.

They were commenting on a news report quoting former deputy prime minister Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, as saying her husband was most likely to lead the country instead of Dr Mahathir Mohamad if Pakatan Harapan were to return to power.

She said PH, which was recently toppled from power, would meet to decide on the matter.

Fauzi, while paying tribute to Anwar as someone who has been an inspiration to many who fight for justice, said it was important for him to be aware that he had lost a significant amount of support in recent years.

He noted that some people who used to be Anwar’s staunchest supporters, such as Mohamed Azmin Ali, Kamaruddin Jaffar and Mansor Othman, had now turned against him.

“His relevance as a symbol of injustice and oppression is something which has been immortalised. No one can take that away from him.

“The problem is that he still harbours an ambition to be prime minister. But because he has been in politics for so long, he has made many enemies who are not comfortable with his becoming prime minister.”

Fauzi said PH had to show that no leader was indispensable and that “Malaysia Baru” was based on a vision and not one man’s ambition.

“Anwar has made his contributions, but he can’t be in the limelight forever. It is only fair that space be given to younger leaders as we are seeing all over the world.”

He said he would give the same advice to Mahathir, Amanah chief Mohamad Sabu and DAP leader Lim Guan Eng.

In any case, Fauzi said, Anwar must first become PH’s undisputed leader if he still wanted to become prime minister. This did not seem possible with Mahathir still around, he added.

Lee noted that PH changed its mind more than once between supporting Anwar and Mahathir in the week following the forming of the bloc made up of PPBM, Umno and PAS.

He said it would therefore have been better if the statement Wan Azizah reportedly made had come from Mahathir.

He also said it was worth noting that Anwar couldn’t even get 112 MPs – the required simple majority – to support him even before Muhyiddin Yassin’s name had come up as the new bloc’s PM candidate.

“It will be good if we can move beyond the politics of Mahathir and Anwar,” he added.

Jeniri said PH needed to choose a new leader to chart the way forward and he or she would have to be someone Malaysians could accept and respect.

He said PH, as well as Anwar’s PKR, needed to move away from him since he could not get enough people to support him, even from his own party.

He also said the recent political crisis was ultimately caused by differences between Anwar and Mahathir.

“They can’t see eye to eye and their politics are destructive to their own parties,” he said. “It’s time for new leaders.”