Political reset? Opposition needs complete leadership overhaul

Zainal Epi, Malay Mail Online

Next year promises to be a tough one for the Opposition as it sails into uncharted waters after failing to unseat Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin through his Budget tabling in Parliament this week.

Opposition parties should now find a new leader who is not just accepted by them collectively, but also by voters after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim failed to rally more support for his cause.

This was evident when parties aligned with Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) united to stop Anwar from infiltrating their ranks during voting for the Budget Bill.

The sorry episode appears to mark the end of Anwar’s influence, or rather appeal among politicians outside the Opposition’s immediate circle.

It forces both Opposition leaders and their supporters to reconsider Anwar’s standing as their leader and ponder whether it’s time for him to make way for younger, more charismatic blood.

While DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) president Mohamed Sabu have called it a political reset, it’s really just a nice way of saying: “Let’s have a new man.”

But the reality is the entire Opposition leadership, including Lim and Mohamed, should undergo a complete overhaul in anticipation of a new political landscape and environment emerging in the coming year.

The current crop of leaders have lost touch with key issues and the voters who have stood by them for so long, as they seem obsessed with one objective — regaining Putrajaya.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made Malaysians realise that bread-and-butter issues take precedence over political ambition.

After all, they gave the Pakatan Harapan administration about two years to prove itself, during which it failed to fulfil its promise of a better way of life.

The Opposition was left rudderless when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who led it to victory in the 2018 general election, pulled the rug from under its feet at the end of February. It has been unable to regroup and recover ever since.

With few tried-and-tested leaders in their midst, the Opposition realises 10 months on that new leadership will give it much-needed direction, and hopefully, make them attractive to voters again.

Without that, the respective parties — DAP, Amanah and PKR — can only count on their loyal members, but this won’t be enough to deliver Putrajaya.

But more importantly, the shift in the political landscape that sees Malay voters rallying behind three ethnocentric parties should strike fear into the Opposition as the general election looms.

By the looks of things, these parties will stand together, despite infighting for seats and dominance.

Furthermore, Malay voters now understand the danger of losing power as experienced when Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the general election in 2018.

So what this all means is they will unlikely be split when they head to the polls to decide the next government.