“Time to stop jostling and get your head in the game!”

Letter to Editor

THERE was much anticipation on the make-up of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet. The fact that it is a unity government comprising of parties which campaigned vigorously against each other compounded the state of anticipation and anxiety.

Anwar had decisions to make, marrying the political realities and the need to deliver for the people of the country. These two factors are not mutually exclusive, but can get in the way of each other. Now that the decision has been made, it is time to move on and start the process of working for the people and the country. There is much to be done on both the domestic and international fronts.

The credibility of Malaysia’s governing institutions needs to be restored, after decades of sliding backwards. This dates back to the late 80s, when the first Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad administration dismantled the judiciary’s independence to entrench his stranglehold on UMNO and Malaysian politics.

Dissent, whether at an individual or an institutional level, was throttled. With it, the very essence of democracy was compromised on. Corruption became a way of life for the government and grew into a kleptocracy, which has made Malaysia world-renowned.

Many of the players who were part of the kleptocratic regime, whether in the government now or part of the opposition, are still key players. This makes the job of Anwar in restoring the credibility of the country’s governing institutions even more challenging.

(Photo credit: Bernama)


The immediate priorities as espoused by Anwar, to manage the rising cost of living and to gain confidence of foreign investors which can prove to be a delicate balance in itself, requires a lot of focus and engagement with different stakeholders. At this point more than ever, partisan political bickering especially within the coalition of the unity government will hold back any progress.

The public can easily assess as to who among the elected representatives are there to serve the rakyat and who are more interested in securing positions for themselves.

Statements made by some Members of Parliament stating that they have been offered cabinet positions and refused it is unhelpful and serves to undermine the Cabinet. Does it mean that the cabinet is a second-string one? Even if they have declined the offer, and especially if that is the case, they should not make it public.

The tendency to engage in parochialism should be resisted.

We have already heard lamentations that certain groups, states, parties and races are unhappy by way of the cabinet appointments. If proportional representation would be the objective, then we would compromise on merit. Undeniably, there is a need for consideration of political, economic and social realities, though the need for merit-based appointments need to take precedence in any equation.

Anwar should focus on appointing technocrats who are subject matter experts as Deputy Ministers and in key government portfolios. The country can ill-afford a continued political gridlock. — Dec 4, 2022


Callistus Antony D’Angelus is the Social Protection Contributors’ Advisory Association Malaysia (SPCAAM) international labour advisor.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: PMO

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