KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim should take over as prime minister immediately following back-to-back by-election losses suffered by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, said a lawmaker from Penang state on Monday (Mar 4).
In a statement, Batu Uban’s assemblyman Kumaresan Aramugam said PH’s failure to meet key election pledges was the primary factor for its defeat in the Semenyih by-election at the weekend.
“Anwar should be made prime minister as agreed upon to chart the coalition’s future,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.
“With his experience as former deputy prime minister and finance minister, I believe he can get the job done.”
Mr Aramugam, who is with Mr Anwar’s PKR, also called for a Cabinet reshuffle. “Inefficient senior officials in every ministry must also be replaced,” he added.
He said that this would allow PH to regain the people's trust.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad has promised to serve as an interim prime minister, before handing over to Mr Anwar within two years.
However, no formal time frame for the power transition has been announced.
On Saturday, Barisan Nasional’s Zakaria Hanafi polled 19,780 votes to achieve a majority of 1,914 votes in the contest for the state legislative assembly seat in Semenyih, Selangor.
Mr Zakaria defeated PH candidate, Muhammad Aiman Zainali, who polled 17,866 votes, Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul, 25, from Parti Sosialis Malaysia (847 votes) and independent candidate who is also a social activist, Kuan Chee Heng, 56 (725 votes).
This was PH’s second straight loss in a by-election, after it was defeated in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat contest in January.
Commenting on the Semenyih outcome, Mr Anwar said it reflected the feelings of the people, especially the sentiments shown by the Malay community.
“We must take into account but we must continue with our tasks well and I am confident that with a little time, the people will understand why we take the necessary measures in implementing our programmes,” he said.
SEMENYIH DEFEAT A WAKE UP CALL: AZMIN ALI
On Sunday, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali described the Semenyih defeat as a wake-up call for PH, adding that the ruling coalition must not play the blame game.
“We must act collectively in the spirit of consensus to advance the reform and development agenda for the people,” he said in a statement.
“Pakatan Harapan must step up efforts to change and be the party of choice for Malay voters ... We must be brave and not hesitate in fulfilling our promises, especially on the Malay and Bumiputera agenda which is an integral part of the national agenda.”