‘With fading relevance, Dr Mahathir has lost clout as kingmaker’

The sun is slowly setting on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s political career as he no longer has the clout to be kingmaker, says an analyst.

According to Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Assoc Prof Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk, the former prime minister’s relevance is slowly diminishing unlike his position during the 14th general election.

“Dr Mahathir’s ultimate success as far as his political strategy is concerned will be on Aug 29 (Slim by-election). If his choice of candidate (Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi) loses, it will be a slap to Dr Mahathir’s ego,” said Azeem.

“Slim is a Malay majority seat and it will show the extent to which Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air is accepted by the Malays.”

Azeem, who is USM’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies director, said the political field , now is “crowded” with Malay parties.

“There are just too many political parties. Even (Datuk) Ibrahim Ali has a political party… Putra (Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia) and there’s Amanah. But the question is, can all these new parties survive GE-15?

“When it comes to Malay votes, it’s about capturing those in the Malay heartland like Kedah, Perak, Johor, Pahang and Perlis.

“Umno and PAS have been around for a long time and have their own following. Does Dr Mahathir’s party have the machinery to go to the ground in these places?”

He said despite Dr Mahathir’s previous party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia contesting 52 parliamentary seats in the last general election, it only won 12 and Pejuang now only has five seats.

Azeem said that in the last general election, Dr Mahathir was chosen to be prime minister due to the arrangement by Pakatan Harapan (PH) but with the former prime minister “betraying” PH, he no longer has the credibility to manoeuvre himself in.

“At 95, Dr Mahathir still wants to be seen as kingmaker by creating a third force. He is still promoting himself as a potential prime minister but this strategy will not materialise as many political parties are re-aligning themselves.

“It will also spell trouble for Dr Mahathir if (Datuk Seri) Shafie Apdal’s Parti Warisan Sabah party no longer has influence in the upcoming Sabah state election as he will lose an ally in East Malaysia.

“The way I see it, the political career of Dr Mahathir is at the beginning of the end now,” Azeem said.