PETALING JAYA: Perikatan Nasional (PN) needs to swiftly decide on its candidate for the prime minister’s position following reports of the “frosty” relationship between its top leaders, says an analyst.
Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said although the 16th general election is only due in four years, the question of whether PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin will remain the “poster boy” or be replaced by PAS vice-president Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar needs to be addressed.
Samsuri, who is also the Terengganu menteri besar and Kemaman MP, has been rumoured to be a prime ministerial candidate if PN formed the government.
“Voters will want to know (the potential prime minister candidate) of the party they support. In this case, Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional have clear candidates (including Anwar Ibrahim), but PN has not declared theirs.
“Many see Bersatu and PAS still in disagreement. A decision on PN’s prime ministerial candidate needs to be reached soon,” Azmi told FMT.
Previously, FMT quoted a source as saying that Muhyiddin and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who is also the PN deputy chairman, have not been seen sharing the same stage since the PAS muktamar last October.
A source familiar with the issue said their relationship turned cold following Muhyiddin’s U-turn on defending his presidency at the Bersatu elections, which scuttled PAS’s plans to push Samsuri as the opposition’s candidate for prime minister in the next general election.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, however, has denied such allegations, saying Hadi and Muhyiddin are “very close”. He also said there was no question over Muhyiddin’s position as PN’s prime minister candidate, quashing claims the party wanted to push Samsuri for the position.
Mazlan Ali of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia also believes that PN may need to act promptly in deciding on its poster boy, emphasising that this is crucial to prevent more Bersatu MPs from supporting Anwar.
He said this move will help to restore PAS’s confidence, as the party is reportedly concerned about the developments affecting Bersatu in the run-up to GE16.
Mazlan even suggested that PAS might not have an issue going “solo” if it decides to quit PN as the party has a strong machinery.
“PAS also enjoys support from the Malay community, which is growing,” he said.
However, Azmi believes that PAS still needs Bersatu to capture Putrajaya. Otherwise, it must be content with only governing Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis.
“They need allies to attract non-Malay support. Currently, DAP is the strongest (at attracting non-Malay votes), but cooperation (between DAP and PAS) is difficult to achieve.
“So, there needs to be some degree of cooperation with Bersatu to attract that community. That’s the dilemma PAS faces now,” he said.