Anwar is increasingly seen as a chameleon who cannot be trusted to execute reforms which he had promised since 25 years ago.
For over a year since Anwar Ibrahim became the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia, he has practically done everything to swing Malay-Muslim votes, 85% of whom did not vote for him in the November 2022 General Election. Yet, if the just concluded by-election for the Kemaman parliamentary seat is any indicator, the premier has failed spectacularly.
The Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS – Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) decided to go nuclear when it nominated the Terengganu state top executive – Chief Minister Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar – to defend the seat. Not only did he win, but the votes secured (64,998 votes) were more than double that of rival Barisan Nasional, former army chief Raja Mohamed Affandi, who obtained only 27,778 votes.
The 37,220-vote majority was more than when PAS candidate Che Alias Hamid won the same seat with a 27,179-vote majority in the 15th General Election held a year ago, defeating three other candidates. The Saturday’s by-election was held following a decision on September 26 by a court in Terengganu to nullify Che Alias’ victory due to corruption involved in vote-buying.
Fortunately, PAS’ victory does not change the political landscape, nor can it be used as a referendum on the people’s rejection of Anwar’s leadership, as some desperate Islamist party leaders would like the public to believe. After all, Kemaman is a stronghold of PAS, where Malay Muslims formed 94% of its electorate. Besides, how could a chief minister lose in a state that it controlled 100%, right?
At most, the result shows that the “green wave” is still alive, at least within Terengganu, one of four states being ruled by PAS religious extremists. It is also fair to say that the Islamist party may not have won by such a huge margin had the candidate was not the state Chief Minister himself. Hence, one can also argue that PAS was desperate to keep the momentum going by fielding its top gun.
If Kemaman can be twisted as a referendum of disapproval of Anwar’s leadership, can a by-election of the Bukit Bintang constituency – if it’s held and of which the Democratic Action Party (DAP) will surely win with over 80% popular votes – be similarly used as a referendum of “approval” of Anwar’s leadership? Of course, Bukit Bintang’s electorate consists of 71% ethnic Chinese.
So, what’s the big deal for PAS’ Ahmad Samsuri to win 70% votes of Kemaman, a constituency with 94% Malays, when DAP’s Fong Kui Lun had won 82% votes of Bukit Bintang, a constituency with 71% Chinese? Yes, Fong grabbed more than 100% of Chinese votes (including Malay votes), while Samsuri managed to capture only 70% of Malay votes, which is quite shameful.
Still, one cannot deny that the Islamist party had increased its Malay vote bank from 58% in the November 2022 General Election to 70% over the weekend. Assuming Anwar-led Pakatan Harapan supporters chose to sleep at home as a sign of protest against the PM, the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional saw its traditional Malay support plunge from 34% to 30% during the same period.
The numbers might not look a lot, but it’s a nightmare considering that the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) had in the past commanded over 60% of the Malay vote bank in Kemaman – till the powerhouse started crumbling beginning in the 2013 General Election. In just a short 10 years, not only UMNO has lost power, but also lost half of its once “fixed-deposit” Malay heartland.
But UMNO under the current leadership is expected to do worse moving forward. The Malay nationalist party, comprising mostly “dead wood” and tainted with corruption, would not be able to convince its previous Malay voters to return to UMNO. After more than 60 years in power since the country’s independence, it has become so toxic and arrogant that the community it claims to represent does not trust it anymore.
At the same time, however, the by-election result also proves that Anwar’s strategy and tactic – trying to be more Malay and Muslim than the opposition – have failed miserably. The premier himself campaigned in Kemaman for the Barisan Nasional candidate. During a rally, he defended his pro-Hamas and anti-Israel stance – thinking it would translate to votes.
As usual, he wanted to remind the Malays that it was he who cheered the loudest for the Palestinians, so much so he was the only world leader who praised and defended Hamas terrorists. Thus, as the global champion of Islam and Muslims he should – theoretically – be able to win the hearts of Malays in Kemaman.
Unfortunately, but expectedly, all his efforts to woo Malay voters had gone down the drain. Even the most gullible rural Malays refused to be scammed by the premier, whose pro-Malay and Islam rhetoric was seen as a childish attempt to imitate PAS. The conservative Malays saw PM Anwar’s speech as “fake” even after he screamed his lungs out in condemning Israelis.
The best part is Anwar still hadn’t a clue that his top priority was to fix the economy, not glorify his Muslim Brotherhood of Hamas. The Israel-Hamas war is a big boy’s game, a very complicated geopolitical crisis, which the Malaysian leader is not qualified to play.
Hilariously, despite having pledged RM100 million for Hamas-Palestinian, not to mention his extensive travelling and engagement with several Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) leaders on the Palestinian issue – including meeting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Jordan’s King Abdullah II – Anwar was not given the due recognition he desperately desired.
Yes, during a photo session with the leaders of the OIC countries at the 8th OIC Emergency Summit Media Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, PM Anwar was bumped to behind, where the first row was reserved for leaders from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, the PLO and even Syria. It shows Anwar was not appreciated because the entire Arab world despised Hamas.
Of course, the Arabs knew Anwar’s political reason for supporting Palestinians. But they were also suspicious of his support for Hamas, which like ABIM (Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia) that was co-founded by Anwar, was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. And the foolish Malaysian PM bragged about his phone conversation with Hamas’ political bureau Ismail Haniyeh.
His foolishness did not end there. He hailed Ahmad Samsuri’s victory in the Kemaman by-election, saying the Terengganu Chief Minister’s moderate image may ease the country’s political temperature. Did Anwar realize he has just endorsed Samsuri as PM contender for Opposition Perikatan Nasional, agreeing with the narrative cooked that Samsuri is a prime minister material?
Even if Samsuri somehow becomes the next prime minister, do you think he could bypass PAS president Hadi Awang’s agenda to Talibanise the country? Not only the genius Anwar has given his vote of confidence for PAS to rule the country, but he has also killed or sabotaged ally UMNO’s attempt to win back its lost appeal among Malay voters. If PAS is good, why bother to vote for UMNO?
Worse, while Anwar was busy trying to be the Muslim hero in the Middle East, a group of farmers in his constituency, Tambun, was forcefully evicted from the farmlands they had been planting all types of crops for the last 70 years – the major food producers in Perak. Till today, the prime minister pretended nothing had happened and did not bother to intervene to help the farmers.
As if it was not bad enough, he gave the order to all government departments to reject official letters not in the Malay language – spooking foreign investors. He argued that achieving economic success would mean little if the national language was not championed. He hadn’t a clue that there would not be any economic success if a country is plagued with extremism, racism and discrimination.
While condemning the Israeli “apartheid administration”, Anwar conveniently forgot that his own country also practises apartheid and discrimination against minorities ethnic Chinese and Indians. He shamefully “bullied” a student of Indian ethnicity when he was asked when the discriminative “quota system” would be abolished and replaced by a meritocracy system.
Anwar also kept blaming external factors for the deteriorating value of Ringgit, which dropped to almost RM4.80 to the US dollar in October. The simple fact that conservative Malays still voted for PAS with a wider majority in Kemaman demonstrates that they were not impressed with the PM’s leadership, competency and economic policies.
More importantly, not only Anwar’s attempts to gain ground among the rural Malay votes have not yielded anything despite playing the Palestinian card, but he has also given his support base, especially non-Malay voters, reasons to stay home rather than vote for his government. He is increasingly seen as a chameleon who cannot be trusted to execute reforms which he had promised since 25 years ago. – Finance Twitter