PH leadership questioned amid political shift

It will be difficult for PH to convince and gain the support of the people without a clear direction


PAKATAN Harapan (PH) needs to review its leadership issues including the role of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Opposition pact to move accordingly with the current political shift and climate.

Senior fellow at the National Council of Professors Dr Jeniri Amir said PH seems to have lost confidence in Anwar’s ability as the Opposition leader, particularly after he faltered in guiding the coalition in the Supply Bill (Budget) 2021 vote at the Parliament, which saw the federal government’s expenditure plan passed without much fuss.

Prior to that, he said Anwar also failed to prove his claims of having sufficient and formidable support among the MPs to form a government in a bid to oust the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration.

“Whatever they mean by reset, it could be by finding a new alliance or leaders. As long as they stick with the current setup or formula, it won’t go anywhere.

“The question is whether they have a credible leader to bring PH forward,” Jeniri told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently.

He said it will be difficult for PH to convince and gain the support of the people without a clear direction.

As for PH’s leadership, Jeniri said the coalition also tried to place Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal at the forefront, but the move had a minimal overall impact as Mohd Shafie’s influence was viewed as localised to East Malaysia only.

“It is difficult for any Sabah- or Sarawak-based party to set foot in Peninsular Malaysia given the Malay-centric politics here,” Jeniri added.

Similarly, he said former Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his newly formed Parti Pejuang Tanah Air has struggled to prove their relevance within the current political scenario.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist associate prof Dr Azmi Hassan said despite Anwar’s previous “strategic mistakes”, the Port Dickson MP may still be PH’s best bet to recapture Putrajaya.

As it is, he said internal bickering in PH over a PM-designate position that is seen in the public domain has led to the need for a political reset.

“In my view, a reset for PH is to give full support to Anwar not only as an Opposition leader but also PM-designate,” Azmi told TMR recently.

KRA Group strategy director Amir Fareed Rahim said there have been strategic mistakes made by the PH leadership which has upset its voter base and thus a greater degree of accountability in all of the parties is needed.

He said while Anwar is not completely blameless for the predicament that PH is in now, its top leadership should also shoulder some responsibility and be held collectively accountable for it.

Anwar or not, or anyone else, he said PH shall move away from personality-centric politics.

“What PH fundamentally needs is a clear direction and stronger sense of purpose. This is what made PH a formidable Opposition in the past and helped them win the general election in 2018.

“A stronger sense of purpose may be able to unite the Opposition bloc better than any single personality can. The focus must be on issues and ideology, not personalities,” Amir Fareed told TMR recently.

Amir Fareed said PH leaders also need to listen to their middle-ranking and younger counterparts, especially in areas of strategy and what the coalition’s platform should be and avoid going for short-term gains.

He added that each party’s strengths, as well as their internal processes, must be properly recognised and respected.

“Another weakness is that not all parties were committed to the cause of reform equally. This cannot happen again if PH Plus is to work,” he added.

Amir Fareed said if the disagreements in PH Plus are fundamental, then new alignments may have to be considered.

Previously, PH leaders admitted that they were “tricked” by the government MPs and called for a reality check to become a stronger and united Opposition.

Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said in a joint statement that none of the government MPs voted against the Supply Bill 2021 last year, including those who supposedly supported Anwar.

“PH should not waste time with opportunistic government MPs who only use PH for their interests to gain more lucrative offers from the PN government,” Mohamad and Lim said in a joint statement in mid-December.

They said PH shall concentrate resources and focus on 108 Opposition MPs to become stronger, which is PH Plus, expanding it from 92 PH MPs.

Read our earlier report

PH seeks political shift after losing Budget vote