December 16, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – NOW that the dust has finally settled on the 15th General Election, it is time for the unity government to start working.
Unfortunately, political ripples are still very much present and the new government has just started its retaliatory actions against its predecessor.
For sure the Muhyiddin-led Perikatan Nasional is not going to do nothing about this, and is indeed prepared to launch a massive counter-offensive anytime soon.
Many people concerned about Malaysian politics would ask: How far can this new government go? Will it be able to finish its full five-year term?
This is the question many Malaysians will also ask, because they are worried the Pakatan Harapan-led administration will get knocked out half-way, suddenly.
This unity government is basically a time bomb waiting to go off. It is a composite of different interest groups that requires Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to exercise his wisdom to balance out the various forces in a bid to keep Perikatan at bay, while ensuring that the unity government can function optimally to implement various reforms much anticipated by the rakyat, address the people’s day-to-day problems with the ultimate objective of fulfilling PH’s election manifestos 1.0 and 2.0, among other things.
This unity government that is cautiously treading on a tightrope must try its best to defuse the time bomb tied to its body, as it could go off anytime. What we don’t know is when this will happen and by whom it will be detonated.
Umno is going to hold its elections within the next six months, and the appointment of Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as Deputy Prime Minister and Rural and Regional Development Minister will definitely boost his chances of re-election in the party.
Many people believe that the unity government will only be stable if Zahid continues to take charge of Umno. In the event he is toppled in the party election, the unity government stands a significantly higher risk of collapse.
The reality may not necessarily be so, as politics is a game of possibilities!
Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Umno’s MP for Sembrong, has been quite busy plotting something of late. Last week, he openly declared on Facebook that he now had more time contributing towards the party’s struggles, not holding any Cabinet position after GE15.
Anyone familiar with Umno politics could smell Hisham’s war plans to take out Zahid.
It is still premature now to assess his winning chances which actually depends on whom he is going to align with and whether Zahid can clear his name in the hearings of his court cases.
It’s an open secret that the relationship between Anwar and Zahid is one of mentor-mentee. Without Zahid, it would have been Muhyiddin who is now sitting at the PMO in Putrajaya.
To placate the uneasiness and dissatisfaction of Malay society and to deal with the hostile forces from all quarters, Anwar had to crack his head in putting up a Cabinet acceptable to most although it may not please everyone.
On the one hand, he had to prove to the Malay community that his government was not going to be DAP-dominated, on the other hand he was obliged to answer to the supporters of his staunchest ally, DAP, or the party would have a hard time ahead.
DAP’s journey has never been easy to begin with, no thanks to the country’s cruel political reality, especially in view of the fact the Malaysian Chinese community now is extremely demanding from the party they overwhelmingly endorse.
Strictly speaking, Anwar has no honeymoon to enjoy, having to face six state elections next year in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah, Selangor, Penang and Negri Sembilan.
Judging from the outcome of the Padang Serai parliamentary election in Kedah and Tioman state election in Pahang, PN is poised to hit back at the PH-led unity government in a big way in these upcoming state elections.
People are already worried whether Selangor and Negri Sembilan will be the next to fall into the hands of PN, especially PAS.
I was having dinner with a Malay business friend last week, and what he told me still lingers in my head to this day.
When we were talking about the many challenges and uncertainties confronting the current administration, he said, “There are two reasons PN has won the support of a majority of Malays. Firstly, the religious schools scattered across the country have groomed countless students, many of whom are first-time voters. Besides, PAS has been working very hard these past few years to wield its influences in the community.
“Secondly, many Malays are unhappy with Umno, in particular Ahmad Zahid. They voted for PN not because they loved Muhyiddin or Hadi Awang.”
That friend of mine even said, “You Chinese pin all your hopes on the PH-led unity government. If this government fails, at least we Malays still have another option: PAS.”
The “Green Power” has successfully spread from the east coast to various states on the west coast this time, remarkably igniting the Islamist party’s wildest ambitions.
They are now more adamant to expedite the state elections in Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah not only as a tour de force meant for the unity government, but also to lift the morale of its Green Army.
The country is now at a crossroads, and there’s no doubt about it. Umno will have no choice but to reform and grow stronger.
Meanwhile, MCA and MIC in the BN coalition must also rethink their future, as they no longer can solely look to BN’s old model of struggles to stay relevant. This is because Umno can now embrace their erstwhile foes anytime for its own survival!
Whether we like it or not, Umno will continue to act as the Malay’s protector. There is no way we can pin our hopes on PH or PKR alone to resist a much bigger Green Tsunami about to strike. This is, sadly, a crude political reality.
Many Chinese Malaysians have failed to visualise the fact that PKR’s supporters have largely hailed from the local Chinese and Indian communities. The Malays don’t think that PKR is a Malay party that will defend bumiputra rights.
Anwar is believably aware that Umno is never a party that readily plays second fiddle to another entity. As such, in the event PH is to square off with Umno in future, it will have to leverage on the opportunity of putting up a unity government now to substantially strengthen PKR by means of its own performance and track record in order to convince more Malays to rally behind the party.
Before he can wean himself from Umno’s support, Anwar can only pray that the relationship between PH (especially PKR) and Umno will remain strong over the next five years.
Meanwhile, the unity government will need to come up with an impressive report card and take the country back on the road to economic prosperity so that the “Green Power” will not get to make advances into Putrajaya easily.
What comes next will be a grand showdown between Malay parties, a duel between secularism and conservatism.
In essence, the Green Tsunami has now taken shape, and whether Malaysia and the region will turn green over the next few years will very much depend on how successful Umno reforms itself and whether the PH-led unity government can put up a good show.
While the Cabinet line-up may not make everyone happy, now that everything is in place, it’s time to walk the talk and get really serious about work!