Hanging on by a tread?
By:Karambir Singh

I’ve found that instability from growth comes in waves.

— Alan Schaaf, American Entrepreneur

Prime Minister Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in on November 24. The Cabinet ministers were appointed on December 2 and sworn in the next day.

What comes next?

Of course, for us, the rakyat; the next step we, the rakyat, expect is the fulfilment of the election pledges.

In terms of the formation of the Cabinet, realpolitik has made it impossible to fulfil pledges related to pre-qualifications and the moral fibre of the composition of Ministers.

The irony is that the much-vilified UMNO president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and once again Deputy Prime Minister, who is facing 47 charges in court. He is now credited with handing the prime ministership to Anwar, his former mentor.

This is a fact many PH supporters find difficult to swallow.

However, we also need to remember that this unity government was formed at our King’s request.

For the uninitiated, ‘realpolitik’ means a system of politics based on what is deemed politically practical rather than being based on moral or positive ideological considerations.

Another example of realpolitik is when Prime Minister Anwar took up the post of Finance Minister. In a recent press conference, Rafizi Ramli responded by saying that this was necessary due to extraordinary circumstances and that it was an exception rather than a norm.

He said since various political parties were vying for the post and to keep the peace, the Prime Minister had to take up the position himself. It was also prudent for a new prime minister to ensure he had control of the purse strings of the treasury and, thereby, all the ministries.

You have to remember that this unity government is made up of several coalitions that are, in turn, composed of about 14 political parties and 2 independents.

With so many political parties to persuade and please and pressure from some external quarters to do their bidding, the Prime Minister had to make his first tough decision.

The Cabinet line-up, comprising two deputy prime ministers and 28 ministers, held its first meeting on December 5.

This unity government with 148 seats looks unassailable. It is well past the 112 seats required to form a majority government. A two-thirds majority also enables the government to pass constitutional amendments.

However, sometimes it is not the opposition that one needs to fear. It is plotting from within that can cause the downfall of a government. We don’t have to look far back. The ‘Sheraton Move’ triggered the fall of the previous PH government.

Anwar will need all his skills to do a balancing act to maintain his unity government.

He now has to contend with the next round of lobbying from the various political parties. This is the appointment of the deputy ministers. This will be followed by selecting persons to head the various GLCs.

After these rounds of appointments are made, it should further stabilise the unity government.

In the meantime, Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has expressed his wholehearted support for the unity government.

The new Cabinet includes five GPS MPs from Sarawak. These are Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (also appointed as Deputy Prime Minister), Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri and Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang. This ensures a strong Sarawak presence in the government, with the needs of Sarawakians kept at the forefront by them.

I do hope there are no further delay and obstructive committees set up to hold back the fulfilment of terms under the MA63 and other obligations that induced Sarawak and Sabah to participate in the formation of Malaysia.

I also see no reason why Sarawakians would not support this unity government for the entire term as long as the past injustices to Sarawak are addressed quickly.

Good governance and fulfilling promises to the rakyat will maximise the chances of having a full-term government.

It could be said that the newly formed unity government exist under the “Sword of Damocles”. It hangs by the slimmest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by political plots or schemes.

Let us hope there will be no more major ‘moves’ or plots named after hotels.

After 24 years of struggles and waiting, ultimately, it is up to the Prime Minister to step up and overcome all the challenges and deliver the expectations of the multiracial people of Malaysia.

This is just the beginning of another struggle and set of challenges. Twenty-four years in the wilderness and lessons learned should stand the Prime Minister in good stead to deliver.

Machiavellian politics must be kept at bay, so we have a productive and stable government over the next 5 years.

I hope Prime Minister Anwar and his newly minted team can serve the people rather than any self-interest

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.

New Sarawak Tribune e-Paper


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