If not Anwar, who then should take the reins as next Malaysian PM?

JUDGING by opinion pieces penned by good-intentioned civil society members on Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the unity government, there seems to be a free-for-all Anwar bashing fun fair.

A centre that puts out opinion survey recently concluded that Anwar is losing the faith of most Malaysians – whether Malays or non-Malays.

I have written many articles asking for Malaysians to be patient and also try to understand the problems phrased in a so-called “Islamic” construct by Perikatan Nasional ( PN) but Malaysians still want to see change done immediately, rapidly and if possible, yesterday.

Well, let me then ask these critics of Anwar and the unity government who they would like to see “immediately” as the next Malaysian PM.

Seven pre-conditions

But before we go down the list of potential; candidates, let us try to agree on some important criteria that would make a good PM. First of all, can we agree that the PM must be a Malay or a Muslim?

Or should we try Anthony Loke Siew Fook (DAP secretary-general) as the new PM of Malaysia? I think all the mosques would resound with ceramah calling for God to rain fire and brimstone on Malaysia for allowing a kafir to be PM. So, it must be a Melayu.

Secondly, as of the present situation, can we agree that the candidate be a man? I do not mean to be sexist but who at the moment has the aura and power to lead political parties comprising mostly of men and also who immediately can we recall to be a suitable candidate?

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (former international trade and industry minister) would make a good choice but dia sudah pencen (she has already retired). I seriously do not think that Wan Azizah (Anwar’s wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) would hold the realm as she once was asked and she gave it to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (left) and Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (Pic credit: Malaysiakini)

Thirdly, are we seriously going to consider now incarcerated former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tun M … again? Really? Is that even up for discussion?

Fourthly, can we agree that the candidate must be one who can command the respect and has linkages with the international community? Fifthly, can we agree that the candidate must have experience dealing with the royals as well as muftis in the country?

Sixthly, can we agree that the candidate possesses what I call “political credit”? What I mean is that the candidate has given favours and is owed favours by various important parties throughout his career as a politician.

Finally, can we agree that the candidate must be seasoned enough to deal with the monstrous civil service that is a power unto itself. This includes the clandestine security forces at the disposal of the police and army.

So, who’s Mr Right?

So, let’s go down the list, shall we? First, let us consider a PKR candidate. Can a man like Rafizi Ramli (PKR deputy president) with just now one year in government service has the political credits and seasoned experience to deal with the civil service and the royals? Perhaps in five years but I do not seriously think that he is capable now.

Next, we go to Deputy PM Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Would Malaysians like to trust him? Perhaps Mat Hassan (UMNO deputy president and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan) can be PM if Zahid is gracious enough but would Mat Hassan make a good PM internationally and can he be trusted by Malaysians? My money is not with him.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (middle) is flanked by Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (left) and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (Pic credit: Bernama)

Next, let us look at Sarawak candidates. Would it be good to allow either Fadilah (Deputy PM Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof) or Abang Jo (Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg) as PM of Malaysia?

Will these two survive the intricacies of peninsular politics? Both have no experience that can give confidence to me although both are excellent leaders for Sarawak.

But the real question is, are Malaysians ready for a non-Semenanjung (Peninsular Malaysia) appointment? We Malaysians are of course never going to give the reign of the country to people like Hamzah (Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin), Mahiaddin (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) or Hadi (Tan Sri Hadi Awang). Are we? That would be a safe no.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (left) and Tan Sri Hadi Awang

Now, let us look at civil society members who are outspoken and aggressive in all issues by mercilessly attacking Anwar left, right, up and down. Can any one of them assume the mantle of PM-ship?

In the 15th Genenral Elections (GE15) a year ago, good-intentioned and vocal civil society members were wiped out completely simply because they thumbed their nose down on party politics and thought that the rakyat would elect them.

The rakyat knew that these candidates would never be able to face up to the challenges of Malay and Malaysian politics.

What about other loud civil society candidates? Well, the last time I checked, these people are only keyboard warriors like me who do not have any courage to put their names on the ballot papers. They do not even want to form a political party to fight these “incompetent” PKR, useless Amanah, and turncoat DAP members.

So, I ask again, if not Anwar for PM, who? Let’s call the bluff and put out the candidates but remember to be realistic and think carefully of the requirements to lead Malaysia in a democratic system. Not so easy, right? – Nov 25, 2023


Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely. This opinion editorial first appeared in Sin Chew Daily (English version) under the headline “If Not Anwar, Who Then Should Be PM?”

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


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