A recap of major political events this year

PH’s performances have been brought into the spotlight especially on the power transfer issue between Dr Mahathir and Anwar


IN 2019, the spotlight on political affairs has been turned to the ruling coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), especially on the power transfer issue between Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Apart from that, there were also infighting issues between PH component parties and its performance in the by-elections this year.

For the Opposition, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak was brought to court to face multiple charges relating to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and its unit, SRC International Sdn Bhd. Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is also facing criminal charges on misappropriation of charity funds.

Below are some major political events that took place in 2019:

Succession Plan

Dr Mahathir was queried by various quarters to give the exact date to hand over the prime ministerial post to the PKR president Anwar.

The PM had said he would step down from his post to give way for Anwar to helm the nation, but it would be done after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit next year.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him. If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of that promise…irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise,” Dr Mahathir said in an interview with Reuters on Dec 10.

PKR secretary general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail also said all parties within PH had agreed for Anwar to be the eighth PM and that it is just a matter of time.

“Anwar will be the eighth PM when the time comes,” Saifuddin Nasution said at the PKR congress last month.

“This (understanding) has not been changed and PH, at that time had agreed for a smooth power transition for Anwar,” he added.


After the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, there were nine by-elections held this year. This included Cameron Highlands and Tanjung Piai parliamentary seats.

The first by-election for 2019 was held on Jan 26 for Cameron Highlands which saw Barisan Nasional’s candidate Ramli Mohd Nor winning the seat and creating history as the first Orang Asli MP.

Subsequently, Semenyih by-election was held in March and Rantau polls in April, where Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan retained his seat with a 4,510 majority. The Sandakan by-election held in May saw PH retaining its seat with 11,521-majority.

However, the biggest loss for PH was recorded in Tanjung Piai, where the coalition lost by a majority of 5,068 votes. Dr Mahathir — who was shocked with the election result — cited communication breakdown, unprepared election machinery and the rising cost of living as the reasons for the loss.

Court Cases Involving Umno Leaders

While Dr Mahathir pledges to restore the rule of law and recover the alleged billion of ringgit syphoned mainly through the 1MDB fund, the public prosecution teams have also sped up their investigation to allow the charges to be heard in court.

In early December, Datuk Seri Najib Mohd Razak took the witness stand to defend himself in the SRC International Sdn Bhd’s trial. Najib has sought to shift the blame for wrongdoing to the fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.

Ahmad Zahid is currently facing 47 charges involving RM31m belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi which was set up to eradicate poverty. (pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL/TMR)

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid is currently facing 47 charges involving RM31 million belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi, a foundation that he chairs.

The prosecution said not a single sen out of the RM31 million was used for the benefit of the poor.

The Kuala Lumpur (KL) High Court also heard that Ahmad Zahid and his family bought 39 insurance policies for 20 vehicles that were owned by his family for over RM72,000 from Allianz General Insurance.

Umno’s former secretary general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor was slapped with RM1 million corruption scandals, who was accused to receive money from a property developer to raise the plot ratio of development on Jalan Semarak, KL.

Separately, Tengku Adnan was charged of receiving a RM2 million bribe from businessman Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong.

PKR Growing Divide

PKR convention displayed a growing divide between Anwar and his deputy Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

In Sarawak, Anwar inaugurated the state convention without the state chief’s attendance, Baru Bian, who said the convention was not endorsed by the state elected committee.

Baru’s move came as part of the retaliation to the top PKR leadership, after Azmin’s earlier invitation in officiating the party’s youth wing convention was retracted.

The state convention was deemed to be a crucial gathering which was set by the PKR leadership.

According to Saifuddin Nasution, all states have concluded its convention except for Selangor — which is also known to be the stronghold for Azmin’s supporters.

A commotion also broke out during the Youth Congress which was held at Melaka International Trade Centre.

Subsequently, Azmin and his supporters left the PKR convention during Anwar’s speech, citing dissatisfaction over the party president’s speech. Anwar, however, said his speech which mentioned a tale of Raja Mendaliar and Si Kitol was a historical fact, derived from The Malay Annals. Azmin, however, held a “parallel” convention, reigniting conflicts within PKR again.

Sexual Assault Allegations

Both Anwar and Azmin were in the news this year due to sexual assault allegations.

In June, a sex video clips featuring two men, where one resembles Azmin were circulated on WhatsApp.

In July, IGP Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador confirmed the authenticity of the video, but said the facial recognition turned up negative and the person in the video could not be linked to any individual. Azmin broke his silence on the allegations, denying that he was the person in the video.

He also claimed to know the mastermind behind the video distribution but refused to comment further as the matter remained under investigation.

Just a few days before the PKR convention 2019, former staff of Yayasan Aman, Muhammed Yusoff Rawther lodged a police report alleging that Anwar had sexually assaulted him at the latter’s residence in KL.

Anwar, who is the head of the foundation, refuted the claim, stating that he was busy attending his programme in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, during the time of allegation.

Anwar had since given his statement to the police, while Muhammed Yusoff took a polygraph test at the Bukit Aman police headquarters for his accusation.