Pakatan Harapan’s poor showing in the Johor state elections could mark the death knell for the political career of PH chairman and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, according to analysts.
Akademi Nusantara senior fellow Azmi Hassan said Anwar’s days are “already numbered” after PH only managed to win 12 of the 56 seats in the state assembly, weakening the coalition’s influence in the legislature.
“The loss in Johor was much worse because the Melaka and Sarawak elections should have been the turning point for PH to study what went wrong and finetune their strategy, but that never happened,” he told FMT.
PH only won two of the 82 seats at the Sarawak elections in December, a month after the coalition had won just five of 28 seats at the Melaka elections.
Describing PH’s performance at the Melaka elections as “disastrous” and its showing at the Sarawak polls a “calamity”, Azmi said the Johor elections were “both a disaster and calamity” for the country’s former ruling coalition.
Of the 12 seats won by PH, only one was won by Anwar’s party PKR on its own ticket. The party’s candidate, Arthur Chiong, won in Bukit Batu with a slim majority of 137 votes over S Suppayah of Barisan Nasional.
“Based on Johor, PH now needs to decide who will lead them into the next general election (GE15),” he said.
Azmi said he was certain Pejuang and Warisan would not accept Anwar as opposition leader and prime minister-designate if the parties were to join PH to form a united opposition front.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said PH would need to replace Anwar as its leader if it wanted a shot at winning GE15.
“Anwar has made too many political blunders, and Johor is the latest in a series of mistakes he has made,” Chin told FMT.
Chin also highlighted unwillingness among PKR’s leadership to push for someone to replace Anwar, adding that this showed him that the party’s structure was such that it was “very difficult to remove Anwar”.
“The leader himself needs to decide to step down,” he said. “Otherwise, nobody can push him out from within the party.”
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said he did not see a viable candidate to lead the opposition’s march into GE15.
Stating that Warisan had performed even worse than PH in the Johor polls, Oh added that Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was “too green” to take the helm.
“It doesn’t appear that there is anyone within PKR, in PH, or even within the wider opposition who could take over from Anwar with a bang,” he said