Asia Malaysia Who is Anthony Loke, and why he may be PH's last chance...

Who is Anthony Loke, and why he may be PH’s last chance to topple BN and Najib?

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The DAP in Malaysia has elected new leaders, and many expect the party to stick to the same political stance it has had since its first huge win in 2008, namely, to back Anwar Ibrahim as the opposition leader.

However, with the new leadership, things may change since having Anthony Loke Siew Fook as head does not mean that the party would mindlessly follow the Pakatan Harapan behind Anwar.

The PH and its component parties, which include Anwar’s Keadilan and Mohammad Sabu’s Amanah, have recently taken a battering in all by-elections.

This implies that the PH needs a change in policies and leadership, and the incoming DAP leaders may look into it.

In a previous post, we argued that Anwar and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should reexamine their competing views on who should head the PH.

We also suggested that they should consider one last reconciliation attempt before leaving politics for good. This is for the benefit of the future of the country.

We also believe that this is the only way for the opposition, which includes the DAP, Keadilan, and Amanah, as well as Mahathir and his allies, to defeat the Barisan Nasional and Najib Razak.

That is for all of them to unite and to find a leader who can draw the Malay voters to vote for the PH in the next General Elections.

WHO IS LOKE?

Loke served as the Minister of Transport in Mahathir’s Cabinet following the Pakatan Harapan’s landslide victory in 2018.

As transport minister and cabinet member, he had direct contact with Mahathir, a supporter of infrastructure development and transportation improvements in Malaysia.

They were seen together on numerous times, at launching ceremonies and party events. They were like mentor and protégé, to the point that insiders were spinning a tale that no one could have imagined.

If what they say is true, the Pakatan alliance would experience earthquakes, maybe even more violent than the one that shook the Keadilan and the PH in 2020, when the then-powerful Minister of Economy, Azmin Ali, quit the party with 10 other MPs.

This resulted in the certain collapse of the PH administration, which was already in shambles when Mahathir left following a leadership squabble that provoked unnecessary disturbances in a PH meeting in late February.

Loke was re-elected to the DAP Central Executive Committee on March 20, 2022, at the 17th DAP National Congress, with 1625 votes, the third highest vote total behind Gobind Singh and Chow Kon Yeow.

After Lim Guan Eng stood down from the position after 17 years, he was appointed as the DAP’s 6th Secretary-General.

It was foretold that Loke will take over from LGE or Lim Guan Eng. There is no surprise there because he held higher posts in the PH before this.

He may have also enlisted the assistance of a ‘buddy’, without him knowing it (sarcastically speaking).

In his views on the PH’s rule from 2018 to 2020, Mahathir stated unequivocally that he disliked the nomination of a prospective DAP Secretary-General, Tony Pua, to the Ministry of Finance in 2020.

The nomination of Pua occurred when LGE was chosen as Minister of Finance by Mahathir, which was one of the most contentious moves taken by the latter as Prime Minister.

Pua’s loss is Loke’s gain

Dr Mahathir stated in December last year that he had received several complaints (when he PM) from the Chinese Malaysian business community on a specific political assistant to the finance minister, Pua.

In his defence, Pua stated that he may have incurred Dr Mahathir’s wrath by interfering with the latter’s “business pals.” This, obviously, did not help Pua in his attempt to get re-elected in the DAP’s CEC this weekend. That is the perceived ‘arrogance’ that Mahathir denounced as a major trait of Mr Pua.

Pua’s loss, is definitely, Loke’s gain and the game now begins within the PH for it to trace a new future.

For Mahathir, it is yet another peg of the PH puzzle now possibly in his hands. If he wants to bring Najib down and prevent the latter and the BN from taking over the government in the next General Elections, he may need the help of Loke to reset the PH.

While Anwar has already begun the costly process of separating his party, the Keadilan, from the PH and the DAP – we witnessed how the Keadilan played the game in the Johor elections by using its emblem instead of the PH logo – Loke’s selection as DAP leader may hasten the process.

Loke is considered to be Mahathir’s closest ally today than ever before, and he may not be so fond of having Anwar as Prime Minister. This is what insiders were saying in 2020, when Anwar was attempting to persuade Mahathir to resign so that he could take over as Prime Minister.

In the event that some in PH try to re-elect Mahathir as the leader or as a mentor, the DAP may not object if Loke weighs in, we are told.

Mahathir or Anwar’s way?

Anwar will be in a state of limbo as a result of this. Analysts believe that if Anwar accepts this approach, with written provisions and agreements from PH leaders and Mahathir promising he will take up power after a specific period in government, the PH will have a serious opportunity to beat the BN.

However, they do not envisage Anwar assuming the job of deputy PM under Mahathir again after the debacles of the 1990s, unless the latter is prepared to make one last sacrifice for the benefit of the country.

However, now that Mahathir has Loke on his side and is firmly in charge of the DAP, there is a stronger likelihood that the PH and Mahathir, together with his friends from Warisan and Muda, would be able to work together in a bigger coalition.

Nevertheless, the absence of the Keadilan would be a major issue for the PH since it will signify the loss of a great Malay leader from the leadership lineup.

While we believe the Amanah will not quit the PH to join Anwar in a new opposition adventure, which may result in the Keadilan fighting it alone this time, it will add value to Mahathir’s return to the PH as a major Malay leader.

Meanwhile, Anwar and the DAP-PH may establish a sort of partnership in that they may not contest in the same seats or make seat allocation agreements that liberate Keadilan from the shadow of the DAP, which is a reason why the Malay voters are not supporting the Keadilan.

If the PH does not accept Mahathir’s return, the latter will be pressed to establish a third force, which would undoubtedly harm the chances of both the PH and the Keadilan if these two forces chose to fight alone without each other in a single alliance.

The elections in Johor are confirmation of this. Though Mahathir’s Pejuang and Syed Saddiq’s Muda received less votes than others, they appear to have eaten into the opposition’s voting base more than Umno’s.

Again, everything points to Mahathir’s likely return to the PH or the establishment of a third force by Mahathir that may build a loose partnership on seat allocations with the PH.

However, this implies that the Keadilan will have to rebuild ties with Mahathir and his allies rather than engaging in a head-to-head clash that would only help Najib.

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