“Is newly-minted PM Anwar off to a good start?”

MALAYSIA’s 10th Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who took power last year after 24 years of prolonged political battle, seems off to a good start after the party he leads swept into power following the 15th General Election (GE15) on Nov 19.

Anwar has manoeuvred his nascent days as PM quite well. Malaysia has seen four prime ministers in four years and Anwar is resolute that he will complete his five-year term.

He has stabilised the government but his dicey unison with UMNO which is critical for him to maintain power, remains questionable. However, as long as his protégé UMNO leader Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi helms the party, he can sit back and relax.

His handling of the Sabah leadership crisis was commendable. It was delicate as his unity government partner UMNO was the main cause of the imbroglio. The end of the crisis saw the incumbent CM retain power. Top marks for Anwar.

He has somewhat silenced his nemesis, ex-PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who leads the main opposition grouping, Perikatan Nasional (PN) which garnered 73 seats in GE15. Muhyidin has been saddled with allegations of corruption involving an astronomical sum of RM600 billion in government aid during the pandemic.

In a sense, the Islamists under PAS, who gained 49 seats in the GE15, have also been restrained because they were prevented from assuming power following the elections.

Their leader, Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, who has been a vociferous opponent of Anwar seems to have been subdued to some extent, though he is still lurking in the background, hoping that the PN will wrestle the state of Selangor from Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (PH).

The fire and brimstone leader who held the position of ambassador in the previous government seems less critical these days as Anwar has covered all bases very well.

The unity government, save UMNO is a solid alliance. The ties between Anwar’s PKR and DAP are as solid as the rock of Gibraltar.

The road ahead is long and winding for Anwar. He has handled the teething problems of his early days well, but he cannot ignore the elephant in the room, UMNO. Their 26 seats could make or break the unity government.

His cordial relations with the Palace are another feather in his cap. They seemed to have thrown their weight behind him.

Nevertheless, he is still plagued by his court cases, which are a sodomy suit and a case questioning his pardon for the previous sodomy case by the King. — Jan 22, 2023


Ranjit Singh is a former corporate monitoring manager at MSWG.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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