First published in Malaymail Online

By A. Ruban and Syed Jaymal Zahiid , (c) 2016, MALAYMAIL ONLINE (c) 2016

According to analysts, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has the credentials and experience as Selangor mentri besar to helm the Pakatan Harapan coalition to the right direction. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 ― Following cracks in Pakatan Harapan ahead of the Sarawak state elections next month, political analysts have suggested PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali as the best candidate to helm the coalition to the right direction.

According to the analysts polled, Azmin has the credentials and experience as Selangor mentri besar to wrangle not only Pakatan Harapan components parties but also their estranged ally, Islamist party PAS who was previously part of the Pakatan Rakyat opposition pact.

“Azmin is number two in PKR and he has the capabilities to bring together the people from different political divides…as you can see in Selangor, he is working with PAS although the party is no longer with the pact.

“He has shown good leadership skills and he has what it takes to rise up to the challenge,” Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan told Malay Mail Online.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, praised PKR’s Rafizi Ramli and DAP’s Tony Pua tremendous leadership skills, but agreed with picking Azmin as the best choice to pick up the baton from former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He said an aspiring politician must be able to hold together the various factions in the coalition while able to be adept in backroom politicking.

“The one person in Pakatan who sort of stands up in these respects is indeed Azmin and he now has a large platform as Selangor MB on which to shine and perform, both publicly and in terms of building PKR and Pakatan.

“The imprisonment of Anwar deprived Pakatan of a leader who is both charismatic and capable of backroom dealing. Wan Azizah is but a pale shadow of her husband and Pakatan leadership is in disarray,” Oh said, referring to PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

However, the analysts warned that apparent disagreements within the pact need to be settled first, adding that failing to address them would result in a status quo regardless a change in leadership.

“PKR, DAP and Amanah have had some disagreements and this is seen in many instances… they must sing in one voice and for this they need to clear all internal matters and to come to an agreement and to be clear of the coalition’s objectives,” said Wan Saiful.

Independent analyst Khoo Kay Peng also said it did not matter who headed the coalition, adding that anyone appointed as the pact’s leader would eventually be faced with the current scenario if there was nothing done at the parties’ level.

Whether it be Azmin or anyone else, Khoo said the pact will not be able to make any significant changes if it does not sort out internal issues within its component parties PKR, DAP and Amanah.

“You can change the leader but I reckon a similar problem coming. Even during Anwar’s time, there were issues over seat allocations during the last general elections.

“Central committees at all three parties must talk and advise their leaders and then come out to support Pakatan Harapan as a whole…not have different views after a decision is made,” he said.

On Saturday, Sarawak PKR pledged announced it will not cross swords with PAS in the May 7 election, saying it will abide by the agreement on seat distribution struck with the Islamist party five years ago during the 2011 polls.

The pledge from PKR’s Sarawak chief Baru Bian came after it was revealed earlier that the party will likely clash with its DAP allies in at least five seats in the polls.

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