Former PM and Alliance of Hope Chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comment on 31 October 2017 that no one has picked him as a candidate for the post of PM in the next general election in 2018 can be attributed to the fact that he had held the post for 22 years from 1981 – 2003, thus making him as Malaysia’s longest serving leader. Age factor, now that Tun Mahathir is 92, can be another reason for not choosing him, as this will take into account his state of health and ability to administer the country effectively.
Although Tun is siding the opposition as leader of the newly-formed opposition Parti Pribumi Malaysia (PPBM), there are some in the group from other opposition parties who may still have grudges against him for what he had done to them when he was PM. Not 100 percent of opposition members are behind him. Therefore, it may not be easy to perceive that someone who had been wronged in the past to forgive Tun and simply support his candidacy.
Furthermore, the opposition may have someone in mind who can lead the country and give attention to the people’s welfare instead of serving his own self-interest. There is no desire to see conflicts between Tun and his deputy like in the past if he becomes PM again, which in turn can weaken and split the alliance further, as well as with other institutions, in particular those pertaining to religion and the judiciary. Although Tun is likely to run in the upcoming election in 2018, it cannot be ascertained that he is still popular in view of his past actions and criticisms of religious leaders, the royal institutions and judiciary.
In conclusion, the opposition is only using Tun’s presence in the alliance as a symbol to strengthen its political base and serve its interest. Tun’s vocal criticisms against PM Mohd Najib and the ruling National Alliance over 1MDB and corruption will discredit Najib’s leadership and divert Malay support for the National Alliance in the next poll through conviction.