Pakatan Harapan at its weakest since 2018

Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim has come so near yet so far – and so many times – in trying to take down Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. And it has yet to happen.

But the Opposition leader’s mood must have lifted at the results of the survey by Sinar Harian and Sin Chew Daily.

The survey saw PKR emerge as the leading choice among readers of the Malay and Chinese dailies who are planning to vote in the next general election.

More than 14% of those polled are leaning towards PKR followed by DAP (12%) and Umno (10.5%). The other parties trailed behind in single digits.

The result surprised even Sinar Harian editor-in-chief Rozaid Abdul Rahman.

But he was quick to stress that this was an online poll that reflected the sentiments of readers of the two newspapers and that the respondents are largely from the urban west coast.

“It is not the mood of the nation but it gives us a look into the minds of our readers. They are people who keep up with news and politics, ” said Rozaid.

The survey results suggest it is not game over for Anwar and his party.

“Anwar is well-received among non-Malays on the west coast but his problem is the conservative Malay vote. PKR as a brand is still sellable in urban and mixed seats.

Meanwhile, political commentator Khaw Veon Szu said that if Anwar had managed to succeed Mahathir, he would have been the first PM from a multi-racial party.

“It would be history-making, ” said Khaw.

The survey outcome should give Anwar a much-needed boost in his leadership of Pakatan Harapan which is going through a rough patch.

There has been so much shock and awe over the messy ties between the partners of Perikatan Nasional but the situation in Pakatan is not much better.

Pakatan is actually at its weakest since 2018 when the coalition was at the peak of its popularity.

The relationship between PKR and DAP has been strained, with PKR politicians complaining that DAP is scaring off Malay support for Pakatan.

The recent appointment of Amanah’s Shazni Munir Mohd Ithnin as the new Pakatan Youth chief was seen as a snub to PKR which was eyeing the post.

The crossover of three Amanah assemblymen in Johor to PKR made things worse.

But the PM issue remains the thorn in their side as until today, there is no explicit endorsement from the partners that Anwar is their PM candidate.

It is no secret that Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and some DAP leaders are still leaning towards some sort of role for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. They believe Dr Mahathir has more clout than Anwar over the Malay base.

Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal would have been an alternative PM candidate had he succeeded in holding on to the Sabah government.

On this, Perak opposition leader Dr Aziz Bari said that although there are differing views, Anwar has always been the man for the post

“The generation born after 1998 don’t see him the way we do but I personally believe that Pakatan will back Anwar when it comes to the crunch, ” said

The Tebing Tinggi assemblyman said that despite the occasional friction, DAP is committed to Pakatan.

“We do not see ourselves out of Pakatan, ” said Dr Aziz.

According to PKR vice-president Tian Chua, the coalition partners see the benefit of staying together but there is a lack of trust.

“DAP has been left guessing about Anwar’s plans and numbers. There was a state election going on (in Sabah) when Anwar claimed to have strong and convincing numbers and DAP did not know anything at all, ” he said.

Chua said Anwar can forget about becoming PM if he cannot swing the Malay vote.

The survey findings that 30% of the Chinese respondents are still unsure who to support should be of concern to Pakatan. Many Chinese voters feel let down and disappointed by the politics of the last few years.

Moreover, the “best-selling” issues are no longer there for Pakatan to ride on.

Back in 2018, there was the 1MDB scandal and the unpopular GST or Sales and Services Tax while Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was the lightning rod for everything that was wrong with the country.

Pakatan came in as the white knight to save Malaysia from corruption and bankruptcy.

It would be awkward now, especially for DAP, to use their loud speaker on the corruption platform with its top leader facing corruption charges.

Most of all, “lao ma” or the old horse as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is known among the Chinese, will not be around to carry them past the finish line.

“He was the X-factor in GE14, ” said Chua.

Dr Mahathir’s credibility has plunged going by the chatter on social media.

“The Chinese feel betrayed while the Malays do not trust him like before, ” said Khaw.

So what will Pakatan be campaigning on to make a return to Putrajaya?

For sure, the opposition intends to hammer away at the “backdoor government” and pick at its mistakes and shortcomings.

People, said Chua, will be less emotional this time around.

The last general election was charged with emotion and even passion as Malaysians voted for change. They did change the government but they did not get the kind of change they expected.

“A new narrative is needed and we should not over-promise this time around. The economy will be a key issue. It will be about who can bring economic direction and stability, ” said Chua.