Dare Anwar review Zahid’s DNAA with prospect of more Bersatu MPs pledging support for unity gov’t?

BY any measure, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim now enjoys solid support in the Dewan Rakyat, especially on the back of a spate of defections from Bersatu MPs.

The latest to do so is Tanjong Karang MP Datuk Dr Zulkaperi Hanapi which raised the number of Bersatu lawmakers who had publicly declared their support for Anwar to six.

Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal who is part of the six recently disclosed that another 10 Bersatu MPs will jump ship, further consolidating Anwar’s grip on power.

At current juncture, Anwar’s numerical strength in the Lower House is unprecedented since Barisan Nasional (BN) lost its traditional two-thirds majority during the 2008 general election.

Datuk Dr Zulkaperi Hanapi

With the latest defection, Anwar should have support from 153 Federal lawmakers in the 222-seat legislature. This exceeds the 148 needed for two-thirds majority.

That being the case, Anwar should waste no time rolling out bold reforms which he had promised during his Opposition heydays given the unity government is now theoretically unassailable.

These include expediting the separation of duties between the Attorney-General (AG) and the public prosecutor; putting a stop to political appointments in GLCs (government-linked companies); giving equal allocations to all MPs as well as declaring an all-out war against corruption, including those who are part of the power that be.

On the last point, perhaps he can show that he means business by calling on the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to review its earlier decision to discharge Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi from 47 counts of corruption involving charitable foundation Yayasan Akalbudi.

Last September, Zahid received a discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA) for the charges despite the prosecution having established a prima facie case against the UMNO president.

Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Pic credit: Bernama)

This led to public outcry as the decision was seen as an attempt by the Madani government to placate Zahid who heads the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition which has 30 MPs, including 26 from UMNO in which he is the president.

But now that the unity government has received more support from non-BN MPs, there is no more reason for Anwar to be held hostage by Zahid and his coterie of MPs.

Even if BN withdraws their support for Anwar en bloc, the unity government still theoretically has the backing of 123 MPs, more than the 112 MPs needed for him to hold on to power.

Anyway, it is highly unlikely that all BN MPs will follow Zahid’s lead should he walk out of the unity government as it is an open secret that many see him as an albatross around UMNO’s neck to the extent that his unpopularity at the party’s grassroots level will pull down the coalition come the next national polls.

But should Anwar go ahead and walk the talk in pushing for institutional reforms and revive the corruption charges against Zahid, the PM will be able to garner even greater public support – in particular from non-Malay electorate – in the run-up to the 16th General Election (GE16).

And when that happens, his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition will truly be unassailable and may even secure a two-thirds majority on its own strength without the backing of BN. – Jan 29, 2024

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