Our constitution is a ray of HOPE: H for harmony, O for opportunity, P for people’s participation and E for equality.
– Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
No one is really surprised when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim received a barrage of criticisms soon after he revealed his Cabinet line-up last Friday.
It’s understandable and expected if the harsh critics came from the opposition, particularly from Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders. But the new prime minister should do well to pay attention to feedback coming from his support base, especially from non-politicians.
What was the key point of their disappointment with Anwar’s line-up? It was the “Z” factor – the inclusion of UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a member of the court cluster alumni, as a deputy prime minister.
So, it came as no surprise to me when a dear friend in Kuala Lumpur sent me this ‘Anwar bashing’ message:
“Anwar Ibrahim has finally shown his true colours. All this while, UMNO blood has been running in his veins as can be seen by the appointment of Zahid the villain to the second highest position in the Cabinet.
“The electorate rejected UMNO during GE15 but now they are back in power, no thanks to Anwar just to become the prime minister – the position which has eluded him all these years.
“As a citizen, I feel betrayed and I am quite certain that this is the feeling of many Malaysians who wanted to put UMNO into the dustbin of history. Anwar’s action will not be forgotten for a very long time.
“If he is not careful, UMNO might plot another Sheraton Move on him just like Humpty Dumpty having another fall. He was only too keen to join forces with the power-hungry UMNO at the expense of the rakyat and to me, this is betrayal at the highest level.
“Finally, I think that history will not judge him too kindly in his desperation to satisfy his craving for power”, my friend concluded.
That was harsh, loud and full of angst. Understandably so. Those who harbour a phobia about UMNO and its leaders, most of whom are perceived to be corrupt, will not want to listen to Anwar’s side of the story. To them, it is impossible for Zahid to be included in Anwar’s Cabinet.
I did not want to respond to my friend’s message for I know that it would lead to a long, unending debate. I choose to share my thoughts here with readers and I will forward this article to my friend after it is published.
I can say this for a fact and I doubt I am wrong. No one, not even Anwar himself, is happy with the Cabinet line-up. If the prime minister is also unhappy and disappointment with the team he is supposed to lead, you and I would be understandably furious with such a lacklustre and crappy line-up of ministers.
However, if we put ourselves in Anwar’s shoes and given the ‘circumstances’ he is facing in a multi-coalition setup, would any of us be able to come up with a better Cabinet? I know I can’t.
Many of us will never be able to understand what Anwar had gone through in the seven days that he juggled with names and requests in the formation of his Cabinet.
There is one important thing which all of us must bear in mind. Anwar is not leading a Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. He is the prime minister of a unity government – one that is decreed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
As such, uppermost in Anwar’s mind has to be the survival of the government that has just been formed and one which he is tasked by the king and Malaysians to lead over the next five years, hopefully.
No, this is not a perfect Cabinet but a necessary one. There is no perfect Cabinet; let us not forget that this is an imperfect world. Anwar is just as imperfect as the next man sitting next to him during the cabinet meeting in Putrajaya.
Now that the Cabinet has been formed, let us move on, even if unhappily and grudgingly. The tasks ahead are enormous and difficult.
For the past three years, we were a broken nation. Everything was not working and in a mess. There was non-stop politicking and political leaders were more concerned about losing their power, so much so that the nation seemed to be running on auto-pilot.
Now, we have a real prime minister, so to speak. Anwar and PH obtained the most number of seats in the just-concluded GE15 and they deserve to form and lead the government.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has also wisely obeyed the king’s decree to take part in a unity government. The coalition is well represented in Anwar’s cabinet with five ministers including a deputy prime minister from Sarawak for the first time.
Given all the disappointment and misgivings about the new Cabinet, I would still choose to support Anwar and wish to see him make good his pledges for the nation he has longed to lead as prime minister.
If not Anwar, then who? Is there a better alternative PM today? I cannot think of another name at this point.
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.