PETALING JAYA – Political analysts are divided over the list of state chairmen released by Pakatan Harapan on Monday, with several identifying the many challenges facing those appointed.

Pacific Research Centre’s principal adviser Dr Oh Ei Sun said the appointments showed that the Opposition coalition was trying hard to have a balanced representation of its various component parties.

“The real challenge lies in whether the state chairmen can consolidate and coordinate the component parties’ support within the states,” he added.

Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research director Ibrahim Suffian noted that there was no indigenous representation from Sabah and Sarawak.

“I would think, for a coalition that sells itself as a challenger to Barisan Nasional, it ought to have leaders from those major communities as well,” he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian also expects some dissatisfaction from Sabahan, Sarawakian and Indian leaders because the distribution of “main position(s) in the party also reflects inclusiveness within the party”.

“From the beginning, we saw that they were reluctant to engage indigenous or Indian leaders as the main actor or top-level position holders, and I’m not surprised if they were left behind again,” he said.

He said hoping to garner votes but being unwilling to appoint the said groups to top-level management might land the party in trouble.

“In fact, they never learned from the (leadership) list released earlier, when only M. Kula Segaran was given treasurer position, whereas there was none from Sabah or Sarawak.”

Prof Dr Sivamurugan noted that the list shows that the chairmen could also be the state leaders, such as Mentri Besar or Chief Minister.

To him, the distribution is clear, except Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) is seen as more prominent in Kelantan as a showdown with PAS looms.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir believes the top leadership in Pakatan Harapan had considered various factors before picking the chairmen.

“Of course, to them, they have picked the best candidates, in terms of credibility or influence. Whether voters have the same perception or assessment regarding the state chairmen is another story,” he said.

The real test, according to Dr Jeniri, is to what extent the party can mobilise the grassroots, convince voters to vote for them in GE14, and make their election machineries more effective.

“Based on my observation, the problem with Pakatan Harapan is that they don’t have an effective election machinery compared to Barisan Nasional component parties,” he added.

As to whether the lack of Indian or indigenous representation will matter, Dr Jeniri said it is most important that the leadership is inclusive policy-wise.

“They can’t have a policy that’s very Malay-oriented or Chinese-oriented. They have to take into consideration that voters now have a very high level of political literacy, and policies must be inclusive.”

According to Universiti Malaya political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, many of the appointments were expected, such as Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in Penang, as well as the names for Kedah, Johor, Kelantan dan Terengganu.

“These appointments are taking place while PKR is dealing with internal issues, such as vice-president Rafizi Ramli who was accused of being an Umno agent by his own party.

“The same goes for Azmin’s intention to work with PAS in Selangor, which is said to not have found support from other top leaders in Pakatan Harapan,” he added.

He said the Sabah state chairman also faces a “big challenge” in proving the coalition’s relevance in the state as three DAP leaders have left Sabah DAP while PKR assemblymen have also left the party to join opposition parties like Parti Warisan Sabah, Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah, Parti Cinta Sabah and Barisan parties.

However, the biggest challenge faced by state chairmen lies in finding popular, personable candidates with integrity for the upcoming general election.

“Not only do the Pakatan Harapan state chairmen have to act as coordinators between the component parties, they have to be smart political strategists to ensure they win big in the state, with no seat grab in the contested seats.

“To help resolve any disputes over seats and avoid three-cornered fights, it is an important task at the coordinating stage of the state-level Pakatan Harapan,” added Dr Awang Azman.

The state chairmen are:

Selangor – Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali
Penang – Lim Guan Eng
Johor – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
Kedah – Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir
Pahang – Datuk Fauzi Rahman
Perlis – Ameir Hassan
Federal Territories – Tan Kok Wai
Kelantan – Datuk Husam Musa
Terengganu – Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin
Negri Sembilan – Aminuddin Harun
Perak – Ahmad Faizal Dato’ Azumu
Melaka – Adli Zahari
Sabah – Christina Liew
Sarawak – Chong Chien Jien