Observers say that prolonged criticism of Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor will only boost his popularity at the national level, as the Perikatan Nasional (PN) leader continues to make waves with his controversial comments.
Sanusi, the Jeneri assemblyman, has not hesitated to speak on a range of issues including the water supply in neighbouring Penang and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
His remarks and the response elicited from primarily Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians recently saw him dubbed the Most Valuable Politician (MVP) by former Umno man Khairy Jamaluddin on his Keluar Sekejap talk show.
Political analyst James Chin said Sanusi had become a high-profile individual precisely because of his controversial statements.
Chin, of Australia's University of Tasmania, said Sanusi's remarks were attention grabbing and often resulted in his name being featured in daily media reports.
"Of course his opponents, namely PH and Barisan Nasional (BN), will react due to the large media presence," he told MalaysiaNow.
"This is actually not a question of popularity. As long as he can attract the attention of the media, people will continue to talk about and also attack him."
Sanusi, PN's election director, ran for the Belantek state seat in 2008 but lost to BN's Mohd Tajuddin Abdullah by 252 votes.
He was later appointed as political secretary to the Kedah menteri besar at the time, Azizan Abdul Razak, a position he held until 2013.
He was elected as Jeneri assemblyman in 2018.
In May 2020, Sanusi became Kedah menteri besar, replacing Mukhriz Mahathir after PAS declared its support for PN.
He began to attract attention the following year due to his football arguments with Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.
Jeniri Amir, a senior fellow at the National Council of Professors, said Sanusi had emerged as one of PN's most distinctive leaders, especially in comparison to his peers in Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis.
Acknowledging Sanusi's reputation as a "noisy" person, Jeniri nevertheless said this was normal as Sanusi represented a party in the federal opposition.
However, he disagreed with the MVP title given by Khairy, saying the services of the PN leader had yet to translate in his administration.
"Before being declared an MVP, he must demonstrate outstanding character and authority," he said.
"Personally, I don't see him at that level just yet. Much of his behaviour is geared towards political sensationalism, which does not have a lot of impact on the people themselves.
"He should be compared to individuals like Sarawak Premier Abang Johari Openg, whose policies and initiatives have benefited the people in the state."