KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s return to Dewan Rakyat will unlikely cause any instability within the new government as this has been agreed upon by all members in the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
Pundits, however, cautioned that the timing and pace of Anwar’s transition from being an MP to assuming the prime minister’s post is crucial in ensuring stability and maintaining public support.
Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Sivamurugan Pandian said PKR strategists have their work cut out for them, seeing as Anwar’s wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is currently occupying the country’s number two post.
“There should be no problem within the pact because it was agreed from day one that Anwar is their prime minister-in-waiting and up to this day, everyone is still singing the same tune.
“Now, the party strategists need to do a good job. The dilemma is if Wan Azizah doesn’t give up Pandan, they can be accused of nepotism. But if she does, it may seem like she was just standing in while waiting for her husband to swoop in,” he told Malay Mail.
Sivamurugan pointed out that Dr Wan Azizah’s fate is of public concern, as evident in her high rating as the most popular minister, according to a Merdeka Center recent survey.
He said although there may be pressure from supporters for Anwar to move up the ranks once he wins a seat, the PKR president-elect should not rush the transition process.
“Anwar himself said he wants to see reforms being made first and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is asking for two years. It would be best for him to be a backbencher for at least one or two more parliament sessions before focusing on the transition,” he said.
International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) professor Datuk Seri Syed Arabi Idid echoed the same sentiment, adding that Anwar could use the time to learn how the show is being run.
“It is good for Anwar to be a backbencher for a while, allowing Dr Wan Azizah to continue holding the DPM post. It is good for both PKR and Pakatan...and Dr Mahathir would not also feel threatened.
“As backbencher, Anwar would have the opportunity to monitor the administration, hit back at the Opposition and he can take this time to ‘recover’. He was away for 20 years and a lot has changed since,” he said.
Anwar had previously commented that he wished to make a Parliament comeback before October this year.
Since then, various speculations about his potential seat have been made, including Sungai Petani, Alor Setar, Pandan and Port Dickson parliamentary seats.
PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has confirmed that Anwar is set to make the official announcement after returning from Hong Kong today.
Saifuddin, had, however, ruled out all northern peninsula states and Pandan, while remaining tight-lipped about Port Dickson.
Political and economic analyst Prof Hoo Ke Ping said the seat is not that important since Anwar is likely to win by a strong margin.
“Generally the seat he will contest in is likely to be one where the constituents favour him greatly. It could likely be either Nibong Tebal, where the incumbent (Prof Datuk) Mansor Othman will make way for him, and who may become Penang Governor later on as a result of this.
“Another option is Permatang Pauh, under Nurul Izzah Anwar. It is possible that upon her departure she can take up any available government post, although there is no word yet as to what she would do if she has to make way for her father,” he said.
Hoo also referred to the PKR party elections, which commenced in July and its results to be announced in November. He said should deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali win the election again, it will serve to strengthen Dr Mahathir’s base of support.
“If Azmin wins it will make no sense for him to move against Anwar, as that would be political suicide.
“Although everyone has largely kept their promises, things can change in the future. Therefore it is important to keep an eye out for November,” he said.
Were Azmin to lose, Hoo said it is also possible that he could end up joining Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) instead, bringing along several PKR MPs with him.
“Azmin can bring along as many as 20 MPs with him if he joins PPBM. This would end up putting Anwar in a delicate and difficult situation,” he said.