JOHOR BARU, July 22 — The imminent appointment of Johor PKR’s new state chief is set to be an exciting affair after Maszlee Malik’s name surfaced as a potential candidate last weekend.
It was learnt that the party’s Johor grassroots support for the Simpang Renggam MP materialised only during the PKR national congress in Shah Alam last weekend.
Maszlee, a former minister in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, had received the highest number of votes with 1,091 to secure the top spot in PKR’s 20-member central leadership council (MPP) in the party’s polls.
Several Johor PKR sources have pointed to Maszlee being a potential candidate to be named as the party’s state chief, which is a post appointed by the president.
However, some lobbying by party leaders is expected as the new national leadership line-up for the 2022-2025 term settles in before appointments for the party’s non-elected posts begin.
A Johor PKR division chief, who declined to be named, said Maszlee has the right credentials as he is recognised as both a public intellectual as well as a social activist.
He said Maszlee’s recent speech touching on education reforms had struck a chord with delegates and the public during the PKR national congress.
“Maszlee has a different perspective on tackling the realities of the situation that our country is in when he addressed the ‘lost generation’ of students affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Many other speakers would immediately touch on the expected economy and cost of living issues, but Maszlee highlighted the shortcomings of the country’s education that was just as important for the nation’s recovery phase.
“In many ways, many took notice of his different approach and perhaps this is the leadership style that PKR in Johor needs to be able to rejuvenate,” said the source to Malay Mail on condition of anonymity.
He was commenting on rumours from several PKR delegates last weekend that the former education minister could possibly be appointed to lead PKR’s Johor chapter.
In addition, the same source added that Maszlee, despite his activist background, is also seen as a politician who understands the intricacies involving Johor politics and the royal palace.
“As a local, a Johor elected representative and also Simpang Renggam PKR’s newly elected division chief, Maszlee is well-versed in the state’s political landscape, especially on matters involving the Johor royal palace.
“This is important for the party, and I believe Maszlee is capable of bridging the relationship between PKR’s Johor chapter, the national leadership and also party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” he said.
Another party source agreed that Maszlee would make an ideal state chief as he is known as a politician who defends the interests of the people.
He said Maszlee leads by example and can be hands-on when the need arises.
“Maszlee’s leadership style can be seen in how he administers his Simpang Renggam division, where he is also its division chief,” said the source.
However, another Johor PKR source from the Batu Pahat division highlighted Maszlee’s apparent shortcomings despite him ticking all the right boxes.
He pointed out that Maszlee is barely into his first year as a PKR member, and certain sections of the grassroots were bound to question his “seniority” within the party if he were appointed as state chief.
“There is the issue of understanding PKR’s strong reform culture that takes time to achieve.
“Some members will question his loyalty to PKR and what merits his appointment,” said the source on Maszlee’s PKR membership, which commenced when he officially joined PKR last November.
The same source said newly elected Parit Sulong PKR division chief Hasni Abas’ name has also been bandied about for the post of state chief.
“Despite being new to Johor, Hasni is a seasoned PKR member and was part of the party’s Federal Territories leadership before moving down south.
“As a former division information chief, Hasni is known to speak up on issues and is clear on the reform agenda that makes up the basis of PKR’s struggle,” said the source.
Recently, Hasni’s name made its rounds during the Johor state election campaign in March as a potential candidate. However, the arts and culture activist was not named by the party.
He surprised many after he was recently elected as the Parit Sulong PKR division chief after securing the post in the divisional polls.
Another party source added that Hasni is known as an active PKR member and loyalist who started from the lower ranks of the party.
“He (Hasni) is adept at Malaysian political history and known for his frank narratives on PKR’s struggle.
“Johor PKR can benefit from someone like Hasni, and at the same time, emulate his ‘back-to-basics’ approach in defending the people’s interest,” said the source.
Malay Mail learnt that two other senior state PKR leaders have also shown their interest in being appointed as the party’s Johor chief.
Ledang MP Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh is said to be keen to be re-appointed as the Johor PKR chief. He is currently the party’s outgoing state chief.
Outspoken PKR leader and Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim is also said to be in the running. He was a former Johor PKR chief.
The appointment of the respective PKR state chiefs, or popularly known in the party as chairman of the state leadership council (or its Malay initials of MPN), is the prerogative of the party president, who is Anwar.
Traditionally, all PKR state chiefs are required to have majority support from the state party’s division chiefs. In turn, the state chief will also act as a liaison between the state divisions and national leadership on any issues.