COMMENTARY, Nov 5 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim hit the campaign trail officially this morning in a grand setting, as he also launched Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) bid to recapture Putrajaya that the Opposition coalition lost in 2020.
Anwar, who is tasked — or, rather, parachuted himself — to recapture the Tambun parliamentary seat from Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, is leading PH's charge from Perak, which was chosen as its launch pad.
In the 2018 general election, the coalition had picked Johor as its launch pad, which brought success.
This time around, the country’s political scenario has changed tremendously, which makes Anwar's job more challenging, difficult, and unpredictable.
For Anwar, taking back Tambun seems easy as his opponents are considered political lightweights compare to his stature and charisma; if former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had not broken his promises, Anwar would be the PM now.
As that is now history and Anwar is ready to take on the challenge, he has to also see that his coalition wins the Perak state government, to show that the majority in the state approve of his present act – to take what had been promised to him.
For Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, he is expected to retain his constituency as he is considered a family member by the constituents who will stand by him in times of need.
This time around, only three states are holding state elections while six more — Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan and Terengganu — will only hold their state elections when their terms expire in July next year.
Johor, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak had their state elections between 2020 and early this year.
Anwar's attempt to take Perak is an arduous task as the Opposition coalition has yet to gain strong footing in the state where Barisan Nasional (BN) has 25 state seats, Perikatan Nasional (PN) has eight (Bersatu five and PAS three), and PH has 23 (DAP - 15, Amanah - 5 and PKR - 3) out of 59 seats.
At the parliamentary level, BN has 11 seats while PH has 12 (Amanah - 2, DAP- 7 and PKR -3) and Bersatu only one out of 24 in Perak.
The most difficult task for Anwar is to retain all the PH seats and add more, given the coalition's performances in the Johor and Melaka state elections that were dismal.
If the Perak results is outstanding, with gains in both state and parliamentary constituencies, Anwar may see his path to Putrajaya smoothen, and the states which hold their elections next year will see his position as PM stronger.
As for BN, it has strong footing in the state and it is quite likely it may increase its seats, as issues voters in the state consider as more domestic rather than national.
Young voters, which number around 600,000 in the state, may tilt the balance on any side of the political divide, and will be the “unexpected” number that may give victory.
The state has 111,800 voters between the age of 18 and 20, and 404,336 voters aged between 21 and 29 who are registered to vote on Nov 19.
These are voters who have yet to make up their minds and they are watching closely to see who they can trust with their future.
And here is where Anwar needs to work harder and not be overly dependent on his election machinery, given that majority of them know who Anwar is, as they grew up with Anwar's published experiences.