Anwar’s guilty verdict will backfire on Barisan, say analysts

Anwar Ibrahim

(TMI) – The Court of Appeal’s conviction of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy and the five-year jail sentence meted out to him just four days before the Kajang by-election campaigning kicks off will result in a public backlash against Barisan Nasional (BN), political analysts said.

Professor Ahmad Atory Hussain, a political science lecturer from Universiti Sains Malaysia said the latest development was likely to deliver Pakatan Rakyat (PR) a bigger win in the state seat this time.

He said there is every possibility political parties from both sides of the divide will play on the sentiments of the people as they campaign towards polling day on March 23.

“It depends on how they campaign. It is all about the style of presentation and PR is very good at persuading the masses.

“With about 75% of Selangor voters supporting PR for two terms now, it is logical to conclude that the state seat will return to PKR with perhaps a bigger majority… it will be miraculous if BN can win it,” he told The Malaysian Insider after the appellate court overturned the High Court’s acquittal of Anwar on a charge of sodomising his former aide six years ago.

Anwar was Pakatan Rakyat’s candidate after polls were triggered by the resignation of its assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh on January 27, but with his conviction, his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is giong to run for the state seat.

Ahmad Atory said issues BN could use against PR include the internal strife plaguing the three component parties, which may not even be relevant or strong enough to change Kajang voters’ minds.

He also said Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will likely stay as head of government.

Khalid could possibly become PKR deputy president too, should he contest the post, he added.

“He may be more suitable for the post because he has had over a term in office as Menteri Besar to show his performance and he has delivered.

“People have seen what he can do and he has many supporters in Selangor. What has (PKR deputy president) Azmin Ali delivered so far as MP?” said Ahmad Atory.

“I foresee a tough fight involving personalities like Khalid, Azmin and party vice-president Tian Chua in the May party election,” he added.