When rewarding Bersatu turncoats breeds political opportunism

UNDER normal circumstances, the appointment of Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal to lead the National Action Council on Cost of Living (NACCOL) should not even raise an eyebrow.

But the appointment is by no means “normal” as Syed Abu Hussin is the Bukit Gantang MP – not just any MP but one from Bersatu, an ally of PAS in the Perikatan National (PN) coalition.

He’s one of the six MPs from Bersatu who had broken ranks and pledged support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PMX) purportedly for their constituents to enjoy higher government allocations.

The optics of Syed Abu Hussin’s appointment couldn’t be worse. For one, Anwar has consistently said that these MPs supported him on their own accord as they were not bribed.

In fact, Anwar had consistently criticised attempts to topple his unity government by incentivising MPs to switch camps such as through bribery. The latest attempt was the failed Dubai Move that was named after the city where the plot was supposedly hatched.

But how can Anwar reconcile his disdain for political bribery with his appointment of Syed Abu Hussin who only switched camp last November?

Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal

The appointment has further robbed PMX of any credibility on reforms. If anything, he’s only taking a leaf from the playbook of his political enemies such as the architects of the “Sheraton Move” like Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

Shady background

It is difficult not to see Syed Abu Hussin’s appointment as nothing more than political. Surely with the entire government machinery at his disposal, there are qualified individuals, including ministers who could better manage costs of living challenges.

There’s little evidence to show that Syed Abu Hussin, a graduate from an Islamic college in Klang and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) being a subject matter expert on rising costs of living.

In fact, little is known about him except having chaired the Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) between 2020 and 2022 which was another political appointment.

If anything, his latest appointment shows that Anwar is no different from the predecessors he used to criticise on account of luring opponents for political expediency. If anything, Anwar is perceived to be worse because he used to take the moral high but is now going back on his words.

And if this practice of rewarding political frogs continues, we are only fostering an ecosystem that will see the proliferation of politicians who have no qualms of abandoning their principles at the drop of a hat.

If not careful, our corridors of power will in no time be nothing more than a swamp filled with political opportunists hopping from one centre of power to another to satiate their lusts for power and money while relegating public interests to a footnote in history. – Jan 29, 2023

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