Malaysia’s next PM: A race to the top

Malaysia has seen three prime ministers at the helm in the last four years, as shifting loyalties wrought political upheaval. Will the country’s next leader restore a strong government?

Malaysia election: Which PM candidate can win a strong mandate?

For the first time in a Malaysian election, there are more than two hopefuls seeking to lead the country once the dust settles from the Nov 19 vote.

On paper, there are three choices: the prime ministerial candidates of the country’s three main national alliances Barisan Nasional (BN), Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN).

But there is also a dark horse – Umno president Zahid Hamidi, who chairs BN but is the only coalition chief who has not been slated by his colleagues to be premier after the polls.


Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s biggest obstacle is his own party Umno

When Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob was sworn in as prime minister in August 2021, he was dubbed the “accidental” premier by some, with his rise attributed to being at the right place at the right time.

It remains to be seen if he will succeed in taking the post again, after having been locked in a power struggle with party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who forced the next general election to be held in November during the flood season, despite Datuk Seri Ismail’s best efforts to delay the polls for as long as he could. The general election is not due until mid-2023. 

Zahid has been accused of wanting to hold the polls early in the hope that Umno will win the election, before a court verdict is handed down early next year on the 47 graft charges he faces.


Anwar Ibrahim’s last bid at premiership

Always a bridesmaid and never the bride.

This is the expression often associated with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has been on track to become Malaysia’s prime minister since 1993 but has had his path blocked by imprisonment and party politics. The upcoming general election will mark the 75-year-old’s final bid for the top job.

Datuk Seri Anwar was appointed deputy prime minister under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Umno-led government in 1993, but his prospects dimmed after he was jailed for corruption in 1999. His imprisonment sparked street protests and the birth of his Parti Keadilan Rakyat, which now leads opposition pact PH.


Muhyiddin Yassin will need ‘a lot of good fortune’ to return to top job: Analyst

Malaysia’s former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin is again vying for the top job, but analysts say it will be an uphill battle for him and his PN coalition at November’s general election.

The 75-year-old seasoned politician is well respected and influential in his home state of Johor, where he first won the Pagoh parliamentary seat in 1978 and served two terms as chief minister from 1986 to 1995. He has also held senior ministerial positions in the federal government, including as education minister and international trade and industry minister.

But his more recent political steps have clouded those achievements.


Umno chief Zahid Hamidi could be PM contender if he clears legal hurdle and BN wins big

As chief of Malaysia’s biggest and longest ruling party Umno, Zahid Hamidi was always going to be considered a candidate for prime minister, even though he and his party had already endorsed caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob for the role ahead of general elections this month.

Despite criticisms from sections of his own party, facing corruption charges in court, and being criticised for spearheading a successful push to call for a general election at a time when Malaysia is potentially facing monsoon floods, 69-year-old Zahid has managed to hold on as Umno chief for over four years.

This in turn has given him the political capital to be one of the most important orchestrators of movements in Malaysia’s fragmented political space.


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