You want to honour Anwar? Name his replacement, pundits tell Pakatan


(Malay Mail Online) – Pakatan Rakyat (PR) should heed their voters and appoint a new opposition leader in Parliament to replace the jailed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who can advance policies and ideas for the people’s benefit, political observers said.

Ibrahim Suffian who heads independent research house Merdeka Center said PR must be able to show its succession plan and work on things like parliamentary reform measures, creating a shadow Cabinet and developing more detailed policy recommendations before the next general election if it is serious in replacing Barisan Nasional (BN) in Putrajaya.

“If they are to honour Anwar and what Anwar has sacrificed for them, and what they believe is for the good of the country, they must carry on ideas on how to bring the country forward, not just talk about freeing Anwar,” Ibrahim told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

The pollster said there had been a lot of sympathy for Anwar in the wake of his court case, the way he was “humiliated” at the trial and his jailing.

“But sympathy alone doesn’t put food on the table. If the opposition is to really prove itself worthy of the support of Malaysians, they need to put out policy proposals.

“How do you overcome the ethnic tension that we have right now? How to overcome increasing inequality and the continual lack of good governance?” he asked.

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said yesterday that Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia may consider allowing Anwar, who was sentenced last month to five years’ jail for sodomy, to attend parliamentary proceedings as Anwar is still Permatang Pauh MP and Opposition Leader pending the outcome of his petition for a royal pardon.

The Prisons Department had rejected an application by Anwar’s family to temporarily release the PKR de facto leader to attend this week’s parliamentary session.

Ibrahim said either Azmin or PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, who is Anwar’s eldest daughter, would be able to do a good job as opposition leader.

“If they have decided to choose Nurul Izzah to take on the job, at least for now, it gives an opportunity for a younger leader to take the lead. If she’s able to perform her duties very well and carry her arguments factually, this will help improve the opposition’s image,” he said.

“Having someone useful, younger, does certainly help improve their image, particularly among young voters, because they make up a large proportion of the electorate… even if they have someone like Azmin, Azmin’s a useful leader,” the political analyst added.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, however, said the question of who will be the next opposition leader does not arise as Anwar still holds the post as long as he remains MP.

“The opposition leader now is Anwar. Period,” Lim told Malay Mail Online.

“We must show solidarity with the leader. Just because he can’t attend Parliament, we can’t abandon him. When Nelson Mandela was in prison, he was still leader,” the Bagan MP and Penang chief minister said.

Centre for Policy Initiatives head Dr Lim Teck Ghee, however, said the general public, including PR supporters, wants to see a leader standing up and pressing the government on issues like the debt-ridden 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which Anwar cannot do from prison.

The political analyst also noted that Azmin, who is also Selangor mentri besar, has been long groomed by Anwar to take over.

“He has shown himself to be politically astute as well as a powerful advocate for the political causes and values of Pakatan,” Lim told Malay Mail Online, referring to Azmin.

“His ability to quickly garner multi-racial support has been especially impressive. His appointment as opposition leader will go down well with the public as well as raise concerns, if not strike fear, in BN circles,” he said.

He noted that Nurul Izzah at age 34 is younger than 50-year-old Azmin, and could play a supportive role for the moment.