Behind PN’s choice of opposition chief

Hamzah’s willingness to speak up in Parliament made him a better candidate for opposition leader than Muhyiddin or anyone else from PAS.

(MalaysiaNow) – While the role of the opposition chief in Parliament is traditionally held by prominent coalition leaders of approximately equal status with the prime minister, an analyst says there is a reason for Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) move to appoint Hamzah Zainudin to the position instead.

While Hamzah served as the home minister under both Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri Yaakob, coalition-wise, he holds the relatively lower rank of secretary-general.

The break from the normal practice of naming a main opposition leader to helm the bloc in the Dewan Rakyat was pointed out by many on social media who said a better candidate would have been PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, or Muhyiddin himself.

Some also questioned Hamzah’s appointment given that he is a member of Bersatu while PAS as a party won far more seats at the recent general election.

But Anis Anwar Suhaimi, chief researcher at O2 Research Malaysia, said PN appeared to be focusing on strengthening its influence outside the four walls of Parliament.

Within the Dewan Rakyat, he said, the position of opposition leader could be given to an individual with enough experience to lead the coalition’s MPs, and a character aggressive enough to provide checks and balances for the government bloc.

“Hamzah is one of the best options for this role,” he added.

Jeniri Amir, a senior fellow at the National Professors Council, agreed.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said the Larut MP had been appointed to lead PN’s 74 MPs in Parliament due to his potential and ability.

“Perhaps PN is more confident in Hamzah’s ability as secretary-general to act as its main spokesman,” Jeniri said.

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