Waiting In The Wings: Will Any Of These Guys Be The One To Succeed Anwar Ibrahim?


(Malaysian Digest) – Even within the community of PR supporters, there is some unease and doubt amongst the Malays towards DAP and likewise amongst the non-Malays towards PAS. So the PR leader will most likely be someone from PKR.

10 February 2015, remember the date, for it is judgement day. Yes, tomorrow the eyes of the nation, and beyond, will be watching with eager anticipation towards the events unfolding at the Federal Court in Putrajaya. Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal to overturn his sodomy conviction began on 28 October last year and ended on November 7. Tomorrow, after what seems like an eternity, we will finally get the result.

Anwar has been on a series of road shows across the country these past few weeks. Although he has stated that he is confident that the court will rule in his favour, he also says he is ready for all eventualities and that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will continue to exist without him.

The former Deputy Prime Minister is looking at a jail term of five years, a verdict that could see him lose his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat. If Anwar does indeed go to prison, questions arise on who will lead PR, especially with the internal conflicts its component parties are currently having.

Today we will go through each of the likely candidates from the respective parties.

No Chance – Someone From DAP

The leader of PR should automatically be their candidate to be Prime Minister should they win the next general election. As much as some people don’t like this fact, but that candidate should be a Malay. Even if there are those who would like to change this fact, realistically it will only happen via an evolution, not a revolution. There is nothing unusual about this; it took the USA over 232 years of independence to have its first “coloured” President. In comparison, our country only achieved its 57th independence last year.

The fact that there is yet to be a Malay in its upper leadership means that Anwar’s replacement will not come from DAP.

The Most Likely – Someone From PKR

Even within the community of PR supporters, there is some unease and doubt amongst the Malays towards DAP and likewise amongst the non-Malays towards PAS. So the PR leader will most likely be someone from PKR.

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail

Being the current PKR President, one would think she would be an automatic choice to fill the role. But that’s just not the case, and the recent Selangor MB fiasco has proven that. She was rejected by not only the PAS leadership, but also the Sultan of Selangor.

The truth is, although she might be a capable politician, she just doesn’t possess the qualities to be the nation’s number one leader. She became party President based on the fact that she founded the party, and yes, no matter what some PKR and DAP leaders would want you to believe —because she is Anwar’s wife.

In the eyes of the average Malaysian, she cannot shake off the tag of “puppet” if she becomes the country’s premier leader. Newspapers last August reported that she even quoted that she doesn’t mind being called a puppet if the move to install her as Selangor Menteri Besar was successful. That statement alone shows how politically naïve she is.

Azmin Ali

Being the current PKR Vice President and Selangor Menteri Besar, Azmin probably has the highest odds of replacing Anwar. With him leading the country’s premier state, he has the platform to demonstrate what he is capable of doing. Although it has only been a few months, his performance so far has been very encouraging. This Master’s degree holder from the University of Minnesota is a seasoned figure in politics, dating back to his days as Anwar’s personal secretary in 1987.

Rafizi Ramli

It is without doubt that Rafizi is the brains of Pakatan Rakyat. For the average man in the street, he is well-respected for his financial acumen, knowledge, and general intellect. His time in various managerial positions with Petronas and his role as one of the country’s premier whistle-blowers lends him much credibility. However his stock and reputation took a bit of a knock because of his involvement in the failed “Kajang Move” last year. But overall, many would still love to see him lead the country.

Nurul Izzah Anwar

Izzah, unlike her mother Wan Azizah, has the credibility and leadership qualities to lead the nation. Her father Anwar Ibrahim’s removal from the post of Deputy Prime Minister threw her into the political limelight at the early age of 18. This once “Puteri Reformasi”, has grown into one of the most influential political figures of the land. There are two major things that stands in her way however. First, being the daughter of Anwar, she will always be vulnerable to calls of nepotism. Secondly, conservatives still make up a huge majority in Malaysia. Will this group be ready for a female Prime Minister?

Maybe, Just Maybe – Someone From PAS

Malaysian Digest previously wrote an article on the huge divide in PAS – there is one group that wants to split away from PR, and another that wants to stay with the coalition (read here). Party President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is seen to belong in the former category. So, if someone from PAS was to lead PR, it will not be Hadi or any of his supporters. This year’s party elections will be the decisive factor.

Mohamad Sabu

The Deputy President who is more fondly known as Mat Sabu has been fighting tooth and nail for PAS to remain in PR, often times actively extinguishing the fire created by Hadi and his supporters. However he has lost in the last three General Elections and there are still doubts if he is top quality leader material. The controversy surrounding him being “Syiah” also works against his favour.

Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man

There is still a huge number of PAS members who are adamant that the party President should be an ‘ulama’. This is where Vice President Tuan Ibrahim fits in, as he is exactly that – an ‘ulama’. Universally loved in the party, this former lecturer and nephew of the party’s Spiritual Leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat is being recognised as the ideal candidate to challenge Hadi for the Presidency during the party elections this year.

Salahuddin Ayub

Just like Tuan Ibrahim, Salahuddin, who is also Vice President, is being pushed by the group that wants to stay with PR to challenge Hadi for the top position in the party. He is universally loved not only in PAS but also well respected by the other PR component parties. In fact, his name was mentioned as a candidate to be Johor Menteri Besar if PR won the last election. However he failed to win and that might count against him if decides to take on Hadi. Another stumbling block for him is he is not an ‘ulama’.

Datuk Husam Musa

This former protégé of Nik Aziz has long been a marked man for the group that wants to split from PR. The new Kelantan leadership axed him from the exco line-up despite him being a party Vice President. During the last general elections, he was fed to the wolves as the party leadership asked him to contest in the ‘unwinnable’ parliamentary seat of Putrajaya. Predictably he lost that seat, but not after putting up a tightly contested fight. He did however retain his Kelantan State Assembly seat for Salor.

Even if the threat of a leadership void in Pakatan does not materialize, it is timely for the Opposition coalition to start thinking of a successor in preparation for the 14th General Elections. A party with no Plan B, no back up, no bench of likely successors cannot go far in instilling confidence that it is able to run a country in the future.