Friday, December 2

Who will become Malaysia’s next PM?

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From left, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

AROUND 21 million voters are eligible to cast their votes in the 15th general election (GE15) today, at 39,318 polling stations nationwide.

They would make their picks among the 945 candidates vying for the 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

Even the fence-sitters, who insist on not going to vote, are a part of this decision – as the saying goes: “Not making any decision, is also a decision.”

Among the four major political blocs in the country, Pakatan Harapan (PH) has fielded the most number of candidates, at 206, followed by Barisan Nasional (BN) with 178, Perikatan Nasional (PN) with 149, and Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), 116.

The GTA candidates, however, are using the Gerakan Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) logo in GE15, as the GTA is pending registration. In Kelantan, they will be using the Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) logo.

Other GE15 candidates include those from Warisan, which is fielding 52 candidates, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) with 31, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) with 22, Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) with 16, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) with 13, Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) with 10, Putra with nine, Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak with eight, Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM) with seven, Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) with six, Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) with five, and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) with three.

It remains to be seen which of the four major blocs that these smaller coalitions and individual parties would be linked with or friendly to, post-GE15.

In addition to that, this election also lists a total of 108 Independent candidates, which is by far the highest number ever recorded in the country’s general election history.

Basically, this GE15 is more about deciding who would be the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia.

So far, the BN has promised its Bera candidate Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to be the next prime minister, while PN has named its Pagoh candidate Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and PH, its Tambun candidate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

This would be achievable only if any of these coalitions could garner a simple majority of at least 112 seats in Parliament.

One of the three men can still be able to become the next prime minister after the GE15 concludes – if his component party is the dominant one in the winning alliance.

Anwar is PH chairman and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president who was once the country’s deputy prime minister (December 1993 to September 1998) during the era of BN-led administration, with the Malay-dominant Umno as the backbone party.

Anwar was later put in jail, and after his release, became the Opposition leader.

Muhyiddin is PN chairman and Bersatu president, and was the eighth prime minister; Ismail Sabri, a vice-president of Umno, was the ninth prime minister.

Adding to these, BN-Umno candidate for Sungai Buloh, Khairy Jamaluddin, had publicly announced quite recently that he would want to lead Umno and become prime minister one day.

Khairy was the former MP for Rembau, where Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohammad Hassan is contesting this GE15.

Mohammad is also Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar and Rantau assemblyman.

Apart from Tambun, Bera, Pagoh and Sungai Buloh, other parliamentary constituencies that have been garnering interest include Gombak, Langkawi, Pandan and Bagan Datuk.

Gombak is where PN-Bersatu’s Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is contesting.

Langkawi is where GTA pro tem chairman and Pejuang president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is contesting. For the record, Dr Mahathir was once BN chairman and Umno president; he was also Malaysia’s fourth and seventh prime minister.

At 97, he is also the oldest election candidate ever recorded in the country.

PKR deputy president Mohd Rafizi Ramli is eyeing Pandan and during the GE15 campaign period, he is among the most watched personalities on YouTube and TikTok.

Bagan Datuk is where current Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is contesting.

In GE13 and GE14, 79 and 24 candidates contested for parliamentary seats, respectively.

For GE15, the electoral roll lists 21,173,638 voters and from this number, 20,905,366 are ordinary voters; 146,737 are army personnel and their spouses; 118,794 are police personnel, including those from the General Operations Force, and their spouses; and 2,741 are absentee voters abroad.

Various polling research groups and some barometers of the people have predicted the same thing – that PH is leading the campaign trail, with PN and BN not far behind.

However, all have also agreed that none of these major blocs, despite having named each of their potential prime ministers early, would get the required 112 seats that would make them be the federal government of the day.

After the GE15 concludes, they might need to spend the next few days ‘orbiting’ around the country to seek and form alliances as there could be no clear-cut winner, say analysts.

On the other side of the spectrum, some observers are confident that a stable government can be formed within the next 24 hours after the polls, believing that some of the major and minor blocs have already, in principle, reached an agreement to form a pact.

It is also notable to state here that unlike other parliamentary constituencies, Padang Serai would have its polling day next month, following the death of the PH candidate and incumbent M. Karupaiya on Nov 16.

In an announcement yesterday, the Election Commission (EC) said the election for Padang Serai would be postponed to Dec 7, to accommodate the rescheduling and other necessary arrangements.

The commission also said nomination day would be on Nov 24.

Based on the earlier nomination on Nov 5, the other candidates for Padang Serai are Hamzah Abd Rahman (Pejuang), C Sivaraj (BN), Azman Nasrudin (PN), Mohd Bakhri Hashim (Warisan) and Sreanandha Rao (Independent).