NO OTHER prime minister has such high expectations as the newly-minted 10th PM of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Under normal circumstances, he should have succeeded Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed as the country’s fifth PM. However, the post eluded him for more than two decades.
The fact that Anwar was denied the post not only more than 20 years ago but more so after the 14th General Elections (GE14) in 2018 is the subject of many interpretations.
Even so, his denial to become PM was the work of non-other than Mahathir.
The high expectations of Anwar as PM is not because he is Anwar or because he is the leader of Pakatan Harapan (PH) but because of the reformist ideals that he cherished and embodied.
This is the reason why it was so important for Anwar to become PM.
The majority of Malaysians voted for PH so that Anwar could become the PM because they believed in him to bring the much-desired changes for the better.
The announcement that Anwar would be PM brought hope and jubilance to Malaysians. The country really needed a change of leadership to ensure political stability and economic development.
These elusive qualities were missing under the earlier leadership of both Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Barisan Nasional (BN).
Before Anwar was installed as the PM, there were even talks about whether there was hope for Malaysians and their future generations in Malaysia.
The PM post might have eluded Anwar for a long time. For more than two decades he was subjected to ridicule and harassment. He was imprisoned twice on some trumped-up charges.
But knowing Anwar, he persevered with the reformist agenda behind him.
Anwar defied the predictions of those racists and religious bigots that he could never become the PM of the country.
It was his indefatigable struggle against the odds that eventually landed him the present position.
It is a pivotal position that Anwar can think of what needs to be done for his beloved country, Malaysia.
Never before in history have hundreds, thousands and millions of Malaysians, irrespective of race and religion, banded together to support Anwar.
Anwar is a mere mortal; there is only so much he can do. But the high expectations expected of him are something considered normal.
In the coming days, weeks and years, Anwar has to take stock of things that were articulated in the PH manifesto to ascertain their gradual implementation.
The number of ministers and deputy ministers should be reduced in keeping with the promise not just to save government finance but to ensure the effective implementation of government policies and measures.
Reforms to the political and economic system cannot be done in a few days, and there is a need for a gestation period for the proper formulation of policy measures.
Unsound policies and ad hoc measures of the previous government should be done away with.
Ultimately, Anwar’s performance will be measured in terms of whether he will have the political will to carry forward the badly-needed reforms necessary to stabilise the political economy of the country.
Most importantly, Anwar should start off by unburdening the economic and social burdens on the rakyat brought about by the unsound policies of the former government.
In fact, Anwar has already planned such a move. – Nov 27, 2022
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.