‘Why Anwar should not be the MB’

Najib Razak, Anwar Ibrahim

If Anwar Ibrahim becomes the menteri besar it will be a major misstep, says analysts

Anisah Shukry, FMT

Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement that he will be contesting the Kajang state seat has left political analysts shaking their heads in disapproval, as they believe that it will only mar the opposition chief’s image as well as chances of becoming a federal leader.

Anwar in a one line statement said he is not  eying the top position in the country’s richest state, Professor Dr James Chin of Sunway Monash University surmised that it could be the only reason for Anwar to contest the state seat.

“But this is a major misstep for Anwar, because what he is signaling is that he is on the same level of (Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng, which he is not; he is higher.

“Anwar’s plan has always been to take over the federal government and become prime minister. Now the message he is sending to the public is that since he can’t become prime minister, he will settle for Selangor menteri besar,” Chin told FMT.

Chin pointed out that should Anwar secure the post, he would have to deal first-hand with “petty issues” that may seem unbecoming of a federal leader, such as water, rubbish collection, potholes, massage parlours and illegal posters.

The rakyat would also judge Anwar’s performance as a menteri besar and to reflect his leadership abilities at the federal level – which may jeapordise his chances as prime minister if he fails to live up to expectations.

“And Selangorians are an educated, urban lot. If they are unhappy with the services of the state government, they will definitely make their grievances public. This is how Ronnie Liu was brought down,” the political analyst said.

He further stressed that it would be no easy task to juggle as the Selangor MB, the Opposition Leader and the Permatang Pauh MP, as the MB’s position requires hands-on responsibilities.

“But perhaps he thinks becoming Selangor MB is the right move as Selangor, like Penang, is almost guaranteed to remain in Pakatan Rakyat’s hands in the next general election,” said Chin.

“For instance, Lim’s position as Penang Chief Minister is guaranteed, that’s why he can run around. Maybe Anwar has made the same calculations: that no matter what he does, he will survive.”

In a statement yesterday, Professor Dr Agus Yusoff of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia also described it as a wrong move for Anwar.

He pointed out that many see the move as a bid to resolve the Khalid Ibrahim-Azmin Ali spat, and the Pakatan Rakyat partners may not be happy with Anwar gunning for the role of menteri besar.

“Many see Khalid as a man of integrity and free of corruption, even if he is stingy with the state coffers,” said Agus.

He said Anwar was better off focusing on national consensus than creating new political conflicts.

“[They] should be looking for a win-win situation between the government and the people, and between the Barisan Nasional government and Pakatan. The rakyat want the political conflicts to end with a happy ending.”

Not easy to become MB

But both Agus and Chin said it would not be a smooth road ahead for Anwar if he truly wished to head the state of Selangor.

“First of all, he would still need the support of his partners in Pakatan, and secondly, he would need  the Sultan Selangor’s approval. This is because the power to appoint the menteri besar is with the Sultan,” said Agus.