Anwar needs to bow out eventually

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A political analyst has proposed various ways for Pakatan Harapan (PH) to make a comeback following its poor showing in the Melaka polls yesterday.

For a start, Wong Chin Huat suggested that PKR president Anwar Ibrahim step down and merge his party with Amanah.

He said Anwar’s leadership had been called into question again after PKR’s wipe-out in the polls, losing all 11 seats it contested.

He said the most realistic solution might be a two-step transition, with Anwar bowing out as part of the second step.

“The first step is to form a shadow Cabinet that can offer a collective leadership for PH’s 89 MPs.”

It could draw up an effective policy to compete with Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Wong said this would allow PH to offer an agenda that could appeal to its non-Muslim and liberal base while attracting Malay-Muslim middle-ground voters.

Some pro-Dr Mahathir Mohamad leaders would push for the return of the former prime minister or, more appealingly, Warisan president Shafie Apdal as his proxy, but Wong described both as “political gamblers”.

He said these two leaders would not be able to fix the fundamental problems in PH.

Wong warned that if PKR and Amanah tried to be more conservative or nationalist, as Parti Melayu Semangat 46 had done in 1995, they would be buried in the next general election.

“The most viable solution may be for PKR and Amanah to merge and impress Malay voters who think ‘we should have fewer parties, not more’.”

Wong also said PH’s “backdoor government” narrative and obsession to “restore the GE14 mandate” was pronounced dead last night.

“PH’s state seats in Melaka dropped from 11 to five because of its obsession to restore the GE14 mandate.”

Now, PH needs to move forward and build a social coalition that could carry it in GE15 instead of just counting on anti-Umno or anti-PN sentiments.

Despite analysts framing PN’s performance as a bad defeat, Wong said PN had done “exceptionally well” in Melaka.

“More than winning two seats, PN has established itself as an alternative to Umno in Tanjung Bidara, Telok Mas and many other Malay-majority constituencies.”

Wong said while PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin’s anti-kleptocracy narrative had not worked enough to oust Melaka Umno chief Ab Rauf Yusoh, it remained a “smart positioning of product differentiation” from Umno for Malay-Muslim conservative or nationalist voters.

“This means a BN-PN-PH tripartite contest in GE15,” he said.

Wong said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob could be stuck between Umno and Bersatu.

“But if he is smart, he won’t want an early general election.

“That will likely spell the end of his prime ministership because Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would control the list of candidates and Najib Razak could likely become the 10th prime minister,” he said.