QUESTION TIME There would be three people in contention for the PM’s post after the 2018 general elections that we can see for now - current prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, his deputy after the previous deputy was ousted, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and an opposition person.
The opposition figure is likely to be opposition head Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and may eventually turn out to be her husband Anwar Ibrahim, currently in jail, if he obtains a full royal pardon and gains a parliamentary seat in a by-election.
What we are trying to do is to assess the chances of these three figures to become PM in 2018, the year in which polls are most likely to take place, unless the unlikely event of an early polls happens. It would be unlikely because BN most probably won’t call polls early given their current low popularity.
How do the chances of the three stack up? We explained in an earlier article why we thought Najib would not last long and why he would most likely have to give up the mantle in favour Zahid.
According to news reports in October last year, only one of four Malaysians - or 23 percent to be exact - approve of Najib’s government. This is sharply down by about half from nearly one out of two, or 48 percent, in June 2014. Tellingly, Malay support about halved too, hitting a low of 31 percent from 60 percent in June 2014.
Our forecast is for Najib to step down ahead of the 2018 elections, perhaps a year ahead, and allow someone else to lead, almost certainly Zahid, after Muhyiddin Yassin was removed from the key posts of deputy prime minister and deputy Umno president.
The idea is that the new leader will not have the 1MDB baggage to lead Umno and BN into the elections. This will be reminiscent of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi taking over from an unpopular Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2003 ahead of the 2004 polls when Abdullah chalked up the best election showing ever.
More recently, one is reminded of Adenan Satem and his handsome win at the Sarawak state polls after taking over as chief minister from Abdul Taib Mahmud whose popularity was waning...