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GE15: Know Your PM Candidates

GE15: Know Your PM Candidates

Malaysians will vote between four coalitions led by caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, long-time opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and two-time prime minister Tun Mahathir.

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The 15th General Election (GE15) this 19 November will see four coalitions, led by current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, long-time opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and two-time prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad battle it out for Putrajaya.

Three of the four leaders that have been put forward as potential prime ministers have held the role before.

This article may be helpful for first-time voters who find these faces unfamiliar.

Lets start with Barisan Nasional candidate, Ismail Sabri Yaakob

(Credits: Malay Mail)

The Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance, which has won all but one general election in Malaysian history, made Ismail Sabri as their ‘poster boy’ for the prime minister’s post.

In August last year, Ismail Sabri became the ninth prime minister after receiving majority support from the MPs, following the resignation of Muhyddin.

However, there were controversies along the route

Despite his rapid rise, he also had a few controversies that upset some people.

As the agriculture and agro-based industry minister in 2015, he pushed Malays to boycott Chinese businesses in order to pressure them to reduce their prices.

According to MalaysiaKini, Ismail Sabri further accused Chinese businesses of faking halal certificates.

He defended his statement, adding that his boycott call was solely meant to target “bullheaded Chinese businessmen.”

What is he promising?

  • Ensuring a stable government and improve economy.
  • Welfare of hawkers and petty traders will be prioritized.
  • Allocations under the 2023 budget will be used to be implement planned initiatives.

Perikatan Nasional candidate, Muhyddin Yassin

(Credits: Malay Mail)

Muhyddin served as the eighth prime minister and is the shortest ruling leader in Malaysian history.

He was appointed after the abrupt resignation of Dr Mahathir. Prior to that, he served as minister of home affairs.

Muhyiddin was previously an UMNO man but a strong critic of it during the 1MDB scandal, and as a result, he was removed from his position in then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s cabinet in July 2015.

Perikatan Nasional’s handling of Covid-19 pandemic criticized

Since taking office in March 2020 as the leader of newly-formed Perikatan Nasional following a power grab within the previous administration, Muhyiddin was under continuous pressure. He resigned after months of internal conflict within PN amid rising public resentment over the political chaos at a time when COVID-19 cases were on the rise, according to Aljazeera.

What is he promising?

  • Economic recovery.
  • Prioritizing individuals impacted by low income, job loss, and rising cost of living.
  • Kelantan to be given the full five per cent oil royalty.

Pakatan Harapan candidate, Anwar Ibrahim

(Credits: FMT)

Anwar, also a former UMNO man, was Finance Minister from 1991 to 1998 and Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998 under BN.

Sacking from BN and the birth of PKR

Anwar was sacked from BN when Dr Mahathir was the prime minister in 1998. He went on to form PKR which was launched on 4 April 1999.

Even though he was a prisoner for more than eight of the past twenty years, Pakatan Harapan, a coalition made up of DAP, PKR, Amanah and Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, made history when they ousted BN in the 14th general election back in 2018.

Days after the election, he was freed from jail and given a full pardon. At the time it was anticipated that he would assume the role of prime minister within the next two years after Dr Mahathir stepped down, as promised.

Why was Anwar Ibrahim sentenced to jail?

Anwar was fired in September 1998 afterwhich he led public protests against Dr Mahathir. Reformasi, a reform movement that would impact a generation of Malaysian democracy advocates, began.

He was detained and ultimately convicted of sodomy and corruption, claims he rejected throughout the trials.

What is he promising?

  • To revive the economy
  • To reduce the salary and allowances of the prime minister and the cabinet members
  • To appoint two deputy prime ministers, one from Peninsular Malaysia and one more from East Malaysia

GTA candidate Dr Mahathir

(Credit: Malay Mail)

Possibly the most recognisable figure in Malaysia, Dr Mahathir served as prime minister for a total of 24 years.

Since the 1980s, he is largely credited for Malaysia’s successful economic progress and change.

He was the prime minister under BN from 1981 to 2003.

In 2018, he stepped out of retirement in an attempt to unseat Najib, who was accused of misappropriating hundreds of millions of dollars in public finances, according to the BBC News.

Mahathir was re-elected as the country’s prime minister with the support of former rival Anwar, while Najib was accused and later jailed on allegations of misappropriation of SRC International funds.

As things did not work out under Pakatan Harapan, Dr Mahathir left Bersatu and formed Parti Pejuang Tanah Air which is part of the Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) coalition.

What is he promising?

  • To ensure the supremacy of law and no abuse of power.
  • He will only serve as Prime Minister for a year.
  • To focus on issues affecting the community, including poverty.


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