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'Samsuri’s win will put pressure on Hamzah'
Published on: Wednesday, December 06, 2023
By: FMT, Elill Easwaran
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'Samsuri’s win will put pressure on Hamzah'
PAS vice-president Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar (left) could become a threat to Bersatu secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin as leader of the opposition.
PETALING JAYA: PAS’s victory in the recent Kemaman by-election will likely put pressure on Bersatu leaders, who officially lead the parliamentary opposition, and shift the balance of power towards the Islamist party in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) alliance, an analyst says.

Mazlan Ali told FMT that PAS vice-president Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar could provide a stiff challenge for Bersatu secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin as opposition leader.

“It looks like the situation for Bersatu leaders, such as Hamzah, seems challenging, especially with Samsuri and PAS becoming more dominant.”

On Saturday, Samsuri won Kemaman for PAS, sweeping 64,998 votes – a 37,220-majority over his Barisan Nasional rival, Raja Affandi Raja Noor, a retired general and former defence forces chief.

The result was a swing in PAS’s favour of more than 10,000 votes from the 2022 general election.

Mazlan, of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, also said PAS had used the narrative of Samsuri becoming the next prime minister to great effect.

“It looks like the narrative worked and the people of Kemaman have also supported it.

“We see a lot of talk of Samsuri becoming the next prime minister, so this gives an idea that he could be the poster boy for PN in the next election,” he said.

He added that Samsuri had also been acknowledged by DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang in a recent statement.

“It shows Samsuri’s popularity has outgrown other leaders in PAS, which is good for the party as the perception of PAS being a Malay-Muslim party will moderate.”

Lim had raised the question in his blog, saying Samsuri could bring PAS to a “new era” more relevant to Malaysia’s realities and needs.

He also speculated that PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang could make way for Samsuri to lead the party.

However, Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara does not believe that Samsuri will challenge Hamzah just yet.

“PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said PAS declined the role previously.

“Hence, putting Samsuri against Hamzah will create animosity between the parties. Questions will be raised about why only now does PAS want the role, so it won’t look good for PAS in terms of PN’s cohesiveness,” Azmi said.

Last month, Muhyiddin revealed that prior to Hamzah’s appointment as opposition leader, he had offered the post to PAS because with 43 MPs, it had more than Bersatu.

He said he had told Hadi to nominate a candidate, but that Hadi declined.

Azmi also said if Hamzah decided to contest and won the Bersatu election for the party presidency, it would give PAS more reason not to challenge him.

According to Azmi, the president of Bersatu would become PN chairman, meaning the role would automatically fall to Hamzah in the event of his victory.

Muhyddin originally said he would not stand for re-election as Bersatu president, ostensibly paving the way for Hamzah to succeed him.

However, barely 24 hours later, he said he had changed his mind after speaking to his wife.

Analysts have commented that the U-turn might have been a strategic move aimed at gauging his support within the party.

Previously, PAS election director Sanusi Nor told FMT suggestions for Samsuri to be made the opposition leader in the Dewan Rakyat could be discussed by the PN leadership.

He said it was too early to give his thoughts on the proposal, but that the PN Supreme Council could discuss it at its next meeting.

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