PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s role as an adviser to a grouping of four PAS-led states will not have any bearing on Muhyiddin Yassin’s standing as Perikatan Nasional chairman, analysts said.
Akademi Nusantara’s Azmi Hassan said Mahathir would merely be an economic adviser to the group, known as the “state government four” or “SG4”.
This, he said, would be similar to the role played by Anwar Ibrahim in the Selangor government previously.
Azmi believes PAS merely wants to use the former prime minister to its benefit to give the state governments of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, which it governs, some economic credence and clout.
Mahathir’s advisory role would also help to get rid of the negative stigma often associated with PAS-administered states, he added.
“Mahathir, being a former prime minister, has vast experience. His clout and influence is particularly important, in terms of (spreading the) perception that (the four states) are heading towards a better future,” he told FMT.
Last week, Terengganu menteri besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said a grouping of PN-led states was in the works with Mahathir acting as its unofficial adviser.
Samsuri said Mahathir’s role would be primarily to advise on effective and efficient governance as well as to connect the states with foreign investors.
However, Umno’s Salleh Said Keruak claimed the move was aimed at projecting Mahathir as PN’s de facto leader, thereby diminishing Muhyiddin’s prominence.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania, however, does not think this latest development would affect Muhyiddin in any way as Mahathir would only be serving as a “mentoring icon”.
He said PN was uniting different parties and icons to go up against Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the unity government under its “big tent” concept. Nonetheless, he said, PN’s dominance would not be usurped.
“They’re only after one thing, which is to pull down the Anwar-led government, so if Mahathir wants to help them, why not?
“Mahathir wants to pull Anwar down as soon as possible. Time is running out and age is catching up,” said Chin.
Ibrahim Suffian of Merdeka Center, however, said using Mahathir to discredit the ruling government could be counterproductive for PN as the former prime minister was no longer as popular as he used to be.