GE15: Fifteen faces to keep your eyes on in the coming national poll

23 Oct 2022 03:03pm
Image for illustrative purposes only - BERNAMA
Image for illustrative purposes only - BERNAMA
It is election season and with it comes familiar faces flooding the media; hell-bent in winning the Malaysia's 15th General Election (GE15) this coming November 19.

Some are veterans equipped with decades of political experience but the fresh, young and inspiring are also joining fray in their bid to prove their mettle.

And of course, it would not be Malaysian politics if those who saddled with allegations and survivors of backbitings to not also make a cameo in the electoral bout.


(1) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - BERNAMA
Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - BERNAMA

No introduction needed here. He is Malaysia's longest serving Prime Minister, who reclaimed his throne with the help of a decade-old political nemesis, PKR presiden Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the last general election. At 97, he still makes headlines despite claims of no longer being relevant.

Three years ago, in GE14, he raised everyone's eyebrows when he led the Pakatan Harapan coalition to victory, successfully cementing his second bid to become Malaysia's Prime Minister

Having left Pribumi Bersatu, some experts believed that Mahathir wants to make Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) the kingmaker should there be a hung parliament.

In GE15, the nonagenarian is set to defend his incumbent seat in Langkawi.

(2) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Umno vice president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob - BERNAMA
Umno vice president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob - BERNAMA

As the ninth premier of Malaysia, he is believed to be the amiable and acceptable choice of all parties under the Barisan Nasional-Perikatan Nasional government following the political crisis triggered by the resignation of his predecessor Tan Sri Muhyiddin Hassan.

He managed to stay in power through a ‘Political Transformation and Stability’ memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the Pakatan Harapan with his administration in 2021, which all parties agreed to prioritise the nation’s Covid-19 response above all else.

Touted as the “poster boy of Umno” for GE15, the Bera MP first gained prominence during the government’s fight against the pandemic as a Senior Minister in charged of Security under Muhyiddin’s PN government before he was briefly made the deputy PM.

While the Umno vice-president has been regarded as largely non-threatening to those who "wield the real power in Umno", he proved that there might be more to him than meets the eye when he purportedly led a faction of Umno to continue supporting Muhyiddin after the party withdrew its support for him.

(3) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim - BERNAMA

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim - BERNAMA --fotoBERNAMA (2022) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA

He who has been coveting the prime minister post since the 90s; Anwar showcased much resilience and an exceptional capability when he brought together DAP and Pas to form Pakatan Rakyat.

And although he was still imprisoned for his second sodomy conviction prior to GE14, Anwar accepted his former rival Mahathir to form Pakatan Harapan which bested BN in GE14.

He was granted a royal pardon which not only allowed him to taste freedom but also effectively exonerated his past conviction. He eventually won the Port Dicksson parliamentary seat but his succession as PM was blocked by Dr Mahathir.

Obviously, this sparked a number internal drama with political intrigues eventually imploded PH after Pribumi Bersatu exited the coalition, resulting in the collapse of its administration.

Pundits viewed GE15 as Anwar’s last hurrah as an MP and his final bid to be PM.

(4) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin - sinar archive
Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin - sinar archive

Dismissed from the sixth prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over his vocal remarks on the 1MDB scandal, collaborated with Mahathir over a new party only to betray him and become PM for 17 months, there is no denying that Muhyiddin's flair in politics.

While his reign was short-lived, experts believed that that the Pribumi Bersatu president still holds enough sway in the cabinet to get a dozen ministers to send a letter of protest to the palace against holding the general election this year.

Plus, he is still somehow able to convince Pas to remain with Perikatan Nasional (PN), though Pas is silent on who will it support as PM.

In GE15, Muhyiddin is not only confident that he will able to retain his Pagoh parliamentary seat but also insisted that he will win it with an even larger majority.

(5) Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi - BERNAMA
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi - BERNAMA

With over than 40 graft chargers still hovering above his head, talk has it that Zahid will take down for the team and may not contest in GE15.

There are also rumours that his daughter, Nurul Hidayah may fill in for him, but of course, Zahid has consistently denied this, stressing that he has no interest in abandoning the Bagan Datuk parliamentary constituency.

Regardless of his candidacy, Zahid still has power in Umno; one of which is to name those who gets to compete in GE15.

He took over the presidency of Umno the Malays-party was at its weakest after BN’s defeat in 2018 GE14, and has managed to keep the party afloat ever since.

(6) Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan

Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan - BERNAMA
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan - BERNAMA

From helping with the selection of candidates, to studying the geography and demography of the constituencies, Mohamad may not be Umno's poster boy but he is, at this juncture, perhaps one of the more prominent and exemplary leaders that Umno has right now.

Some quarters even think the former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar who is said to be eyeing the Rembau parliamentary seat might be a possible PM candidate if BN regains Putrajaya.

“I said it was time for me to contest at the parliamentary level. As to which constituency, that’s up to me, I’m deputy president,” Hasan reportedly told the press in early September.

(7) Datuk Seri Najib Razak

Malaysia's sixth prime minister Najib Razak - BERNAMA
Malaysia's sixth prime minister Najib Razak - BERNAMA

Imprisoned for 12 years for corruption and power abuse of funds belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, his influence however, remains unabated. Staunch supporters are expecting a royal pardon for Najib should BN wins GE15.

In fact, their fealty towards Najib was strong to the point that the Pekan Umno division said that it will name the jailed politician as a candidate for GE15.

According to the division’s deputy head Zamri Ramly, Najib who has been the Pekan MP since 1976; except frrom 1982-1986 when he was the Pahang MB; was among the five candidates nominated by the division for the parliamentary seat.

In terms if popularity, Najib has managed to turn the tides against him post GE14 and managed to recapture support and swag under his “Bossku” campaign.

(8) Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal

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Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal - sinar archive
Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal - sinar archive

Once considered a PM candidate for the PH, the Parti Warisan president is, reportedly, unwilling to work with DAP and PKR at the state level, claiming that PH had failed to protect Sabahans’ interests when they were in power.

Wielding considerable influence in Sabah, Shafie has said that both Sabah and Sarawak could leverage on their “kingmaker” status and push for a different political landscape for the country.

When met by the press, he indicated that he agreed with Sarawak deputy premier Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian that no single party would be able to win GE15 comfortably in the present political situation, and that whoever wants to form the federal government would need to turn to Sabah and Sarawak.

“I agree with that view because we have 31 parliamentary seats there (in Sarawak), and 25 here (in Sabah). If we are smart not to be controlled or dictated by those in Kuala Lumpur, we will call the shots,” Shafie said.

For GE15, Shafie is still indecisive on which seats he is going to contest in.

He said there are several considerations to be made before deciding to defend the Semporna parliamentary seat that he has held since GE9 in 1995 when he was with Umno and GE14 in 2018 with Warisan.

(9) Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang

Pas president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang - BERNAMA
Pas president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang - BERNAMA

The Pas president who whose views are regarded nothing short of a religious edict, was said to still be uncertain if he will stand in Marang or to make way for the Terengganu MB, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar -- who was his former political secretary.

His influence and Pas' status as one of the kingmakers are not to be taken lightly, as some experts believed that while BN will most likely garner majority of the parliamentary seats, the coalition may not secure enough to form a government on its own.

And while, those in Sarawak and Sabah might be able to boost BN's odds, the coalition might welcome a helping hand from a peninsular-based party; and that could be Pas.


(10) Rafizi Ramli

PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli - sinar archive
PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli - sinar archive

After three years of sitting on the sidelines after losing the PKR deputy presidency race to Datuk Seri Azmin Ali in November 2018 with a very narrow margin, Rafizi is set to make comeback.

Evidently still smart, quippy and popular with the masses, Rafizi made his political debut when he bested Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in a fight for PKR's deputy president post in May.

Since then, he has been moving around with Nurul Izzah Anwar nationwide to garner support from the Malays and first-time voters.

Analysts found it interesting to see if he can convince the masses to vote for PKR again.

(11) Nurul Izzah Anwar

PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar - BERNAMA
PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar - BERNAMA

The eldest daughter of Anwar and was dubbed as the "Reformasi Princess" is one of the most promising women leaders in the country's politics to date.

Fellow lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin hailed her as “an exemplary MP and a worthy opponent” when she resigned her PKR vice-presidency in 2018 amid allegations of nepotism and favouritism.

Khairy also predicted she would be back when the country is ready for a generational change in politics and that it would be a “terrible waste if she doesn’t return to the political frontline.”

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that it is "highly likely" that Nurul Izzah will defend her Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in the next election.

"Very high possibility... extremely high possibility," he told newsmen after attending a Penang PKR dinner at the Spice Arena last Oct 22.

(12) Khairy Jamaluddin

Caretaker Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin - BERNAMA
Caretaker Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin - BERNAMA

He was once cited as a man with his own mind; one who is willing to be different.

A capable leader, effective minister that was once touted to be a PM candidate admist a long and winding road. One of the few young Umno leaders well-liked by both Malays and non-Malays, Khairy is undeniably smart and popular with the public.

He has rebranded himself very well after Pak Lah’s (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) regime, but as to how he will make that popularity work for him in the party is anybody's guess.

Khairy revealed that he had been asked to not defend his seat in Rembau where he has served as an MP since 2008 and to pass the baton to Mohamad Hasan.

Recently, he confirmed that he could be contesting in a parliamentary seat held by a non-BN party in GE15 but was quick to note that the matter was still being evaluated by top leadership.

"It is almost sure that I will be sent to an area held by the opposition party and almost sure it is not considered a safe seat.

"Various states (are being checked out), nothing is final. We wait."

(13) Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman

Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman - BERNAMA
Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman - BERNAMA

He is no stranger in social media including Instgram and TikTok, the former Bersatu Youth chief-turned-co-founder of Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) has become a heartthrob among the younger female crowd.

At the age of 25, Syed Sddiq who was once perceived as Mahathir’s blue-eyed boy made history when he became the youngest minister in Mahathir’s cabinet.

However, following the collapse of PH, he left Mahathir and Bersatu.

During his time as Bersatu Youth chief, he got into a legal tangle and faced a corruption case which he insisted was a political persecution.

He is very active on social media, but it remains to be seen whether he can translate that to actual votes and retain his Muar seat.

Experts are eager to see if he can draw out the young voters who don’t understand or enjoy politics, but are fond of young leaders like him.

In GE14 when he was in Bersatu, Syed Saddiq won the Muar parliamentary seat with a majority of 6,953 votes on PH ticket, defeating Barisan Nasional and Pas candidates.

He had recently conveyed his intention to PH leadership to defend the Muar parliamentary seat GE15 as he felt indebted to the people of Muar who gave him the opportunity to serve as a Member of Parliament in GE14.

(14) Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz

Caretaker Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz - BERNAMA
Caretaker Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz - BERNAMA

With a corporate experience as a banker and time as a cabinet minister, Tengku Zafrul stands out as not just a newbie, but a popular one with a professional image. He is expected to contest under the Umno ticket.

However, Umno is very strict in its hierarchy, so whoever wants to be the candidate for the general election will need to have active participation in the division level, at the very least.

His family are well-known Umno supporters, but Tengku Zafrul himself besides being a minister, is not that active in the party.

So it will be interesting to see the acceptance of voters -- especially those from Umno towards him since an Umno candidate coming from the outside of the party is rather rare.

Rumours has it that Umno will place him in the Kuala Selangor seat for GE15.

(15) Anthony Loke Siew Fook

DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke Siew Fook - BERNAMA
DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke Siew Fook - BERNAMA

Loke has been described as moderate, likeable and approachable by many pundits. In cat, the Seremban MP who is a third-term parliamentarian speaks better Malay compared to Mandarin or English.

He represents the new breed of DAP which will be able to pacify those who still hold on to the party's ‘anti-Malay’ narrative.

While Loke may not be from a “powerful dynasty like Lim Kit Siang and his kin,” and that Negeri Sembilan may not be Penang or Selangor, pundits are confident that he shall get the Chinese votes support due to the lack of choice in Negeri Sembilan.

Loke confirmed last October 22 that he will be defending the Seremban parliamentary seat in GE15.


While they did not make it in the list, it is still nontheless interesting to see in how those who have been portrayed as “frogs” and “traitors”, will perform in GE15.

The notable figures in this category include former PKR number two, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and his former party mate Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin; both of whom had ‘hopped’ from PKR to Pribumi Bersatu.

Howevevr, unlike Azmin who stayed put, Zuraida later on left Pribumi Bersatu to join Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) in which she eventually became its president in this month.

It would be interesting to see whether the duo will defend their seats they originally won under PKR's ticket or whether they move on to other seats; and of course, how the people will react to their GE15 candidacy.