Malaysia’s ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition leader Anwar Ibrahim will take over as Prime Minister by next year and there will be enough time for him to win the next general election, says a sidelined reformist who is known to be pro-Anwar.
Speaking in Singapore at the Regional Outlook Forum 2020, Mr Rafizi Ramli noted that 94-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said he would only hand over the reins after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Malaysia in November.
Mr Rafizi is a vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Mr Anwar’s party. PKR is part of the ruling coalition.
He also says the coalition’s presidential council could set the timeline or there could be a vote of no-confidence against Dr Mahathir in the Parliament but adds that both scenarios will not happen.
“I doubt many MPs, more so the leadership (of PH parties), will want to rock the boat,” he says on a possible vote of no-confidence, adding this could lead to the collapse of the coalition.
Reports say that Dr Mahathir has sidelined Mr Rafizi, who recently announced his departure from active politics. The PM did not consider making him a senator, thereby limiting his role in the PH government.
Mr Rafizi says there is talk of Dr Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, aligning itself with the opposition Umno in the long run, particularly after former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his deputy Zahid Hamidi are out of the picture.
However, he says the lacklustre performance of the PH coalition government under Dr Mahathir made this rapprochement difficult.
He adds that the PKR and the Democratic Action Party, another member of the PH coalition, may have some renegade elements who support a full term for Dr Mahathir but he says their numbers are limited to 5 MPs.
According to Mr Rafizi, if Mr Anwar takes over as Prime Minister by next year, he will have time to win the next general election. He says the PAS and Umno alliance may get the majority Malay support but Mr Anwar’s alliance with the DAP will secure enough seats to win the elections.
It is all about the economy, he says, adding that parties which won in Peninsular Malaysia, with the 165 parliamentary seats outside Sabah and Sarawak, had always formed the government.
Of these 165, the PKR or DAP would win some 40 non-Malay majority seats, while 70 Malay-majority seats, with over 70 per cent Malay voters, would be won by Umno or PAS. Then there are some 50 mixed, semi-urban seats that will decide who will form the next government.
He says that, regardless of race, the voters in these seats are most affected by bread-and-butter issues.