What's next after Anwar’s first 100 days?

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  • Thursday, 09 Mar 2023

THE weather in recent weeks has been downright disgusting, with dark clouds hovering above most of the time and downpours soaking up much of the country, in particular Johor and the East Coast states.

On the contrary, the Malaysian political climate has enjoyed a period of relative calm devoid of any unwelcome "storms".

Some have interpreted such a phenmenon as the "calm before the storm".

Indeed, an unannounced gust swept across Malaysian politics this afternoon, heralding a much bigger storm to come!

Former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin confirmed in the evening that he would go to MACC headquarters to give his statement at 11am Thursday (March 9) morning. However, he refuted the rumour that he had been detained.

There were talks that he could be detained at the MACC headquarters, and Perikatan Nasional (PN) had vowed to mobilise its supporters to show solidarity with the coalition chairman.

It is learned that if Muhyiddin is arrested, PN is poised to win the support of more Malays in the coming state elections, with an eye to snatch the Selangor state administration.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s “Malaysia Madani” government has just crossed the 100-day threshold. The political stability over the last 100 days has been reciprocated with a steady influx of foreign investments. Malaysians, in particular the local Chinese community, generally believe that the country is now forging ahead on the right track!

All of a sudden, PAS president Hadi Awang predicted that the unity government would not last long and would fall very soon.

Immersed in the euphoria the stable government of their choice, few Malaysians would actually take heed of Hadi's sinister remark. Many feel he's just muttering to himself. Even the PM thinks he is daydreaming!

Generally speaking, the local Chinese and Indian communities are brimming with confidence in the government of the day.

In the recent survey jointly conducted by Sin Chew Daily, The Star, Sinar Harian, Malaysia Nanban and Astro Awani, in collaboration with O2 Research on the performance of Anwar’s

first 100 days in office, 64% of Indian and 58% of Chinese respondents believed the unity government could fulfil its election pledges within the next five years.

On the contrary, as many as 71% of Malay respondents from the peninsula were skeptical. They were unhappy with the unity government’s effort to fulfil its election promises.

Because of that, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil lost his cool over the findings, doubting the survey’s credibility while arguing that it was “insincere and dishonest” and was “doing some promotion or deceiving the people.”

Just when the outcome of the survey run by the five aforementioned media outlets was being questioned for its authority, another survey was rushed out to the market.

The Malay Mail report quoting a statement by Vase.ai research firm showed that the latter’s survey showed only 23% of Malays on the peninsula disapproved of the Anwar administration's performance in its first 100 days.

"While we do find that Anwar has a 48% approval among Malays in the peninsular (59% among all ethnicities), it's not accurate to say he is then disapproved by the remaining 52% (of Malaysia's in the peninsula) as emphasised across several news outlets," Vase.ai said in its statement.

Vase.ai also highlighted that Anwar enjoyed 79% of approval among peninsular Chinese, marginally higher than 77% for the Malays.

We hope Vase.ai’s survey can more accurately reflect the actual condition of the country, because a government with higher Malay support will naturally be more stable.

Many economists have predicted a global recession in 2023, and Malaysia will not be spared. As such, we do need a stable to take us through the many economic challenges ahead.

Next, we will see how the PH-led “Malaysia Madani” government will choose to believe. If it believes that everything is well and good, then it will have to believe in Vase.ai’s report.

But, if it takes a more cautious stand on the survey run by the five media outlets, then it must suitably prepare itself for any eventuality in order to go further from where it is now, instead of taking things too lightly.

Anwar’s enemies, be they in PN or Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s camp, are not going to let him have an easy life completing his five-year tenure, for sure. PN is constantly waiting to reap the benefits from renegades within the unity government to jump ship.

Up till this very moment, many people, including some leaders in Pakatan Harapan, still naively believe that PN managed to win the support of many Malay voters because the coalition — Bersatu, in particular — spent a lot of money during GE15 campaigning.

That’s not the case, to be very honest. If money could buy the hearts of voters, Najib would not have lost the election, and had himself eventually sent to Kajang Prison!

There are three reasons why many Malays turned to PN in GE15: they lacked a sense of security, thinking that Anwar’s PKR was not a true Malay party; they had a phobia of a Chinese-dominated and powerful DAP; and lastly they were unhappy with the existing Umno leadership.

I am quite sure Anwar is well aware that he needs the support of more Malay voters, otherwise he would not have walked into different mosques every Friday to pray with more Muslims.

Additionally, you can see him sporting Malay attire in many official functions and events, a songkok on his head, in an attempt to win the recognition of the Malays to dilute their

hostility towards the unity government while placating their anxiety and uneasiness.

To thrash Anwar’s unity government in the upcoming six state elections, the PN coalition anchored by Bersatu and PAS is expected to keep cooking up racial and religious issues in Malay society in order to create an illusion of the government of the day being dictated by the Chinese or DAP.

PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang even claimed that the government would be snatched away by non-Muslims if the Muslims remain unperturbed, trying to incite Malay-Muslim sentiments.

PN is taking a highly dangerous path to win the election. The political message conveyed by the HIMPIT paraders is definitely a whole lot more than the cosplayers that we know.

Meanwhile, Tun Mahathir is not going to be outdone, blasting merciless criticisms at Anwar for reneging on the promises made to Malay society, hinting also that DAP is wielding tremendous influence in Anwar's government.

The nonagenarian former PM said DAP failed to control him when he was PM for a second time.

“As the PM, I had more power than DAP,” he asserted.

Tun M’s son, Pejuang president Mukhriz Mahathir has apparently inherited his style, playing up racial issues to win the support of the Malays. Mukhriz openly opposed to multi-stream education policy, arguing that it would be a “day dream” for a non-Malay to become PM, unless there is a complete overhaul of the existing education system, with the abolition of vernacular schools which he claimed had spawned inter-community division.

As for Umno, the unity government component that thrives on Malay support, it is still very much engrossed in infighting, as leaders from rival factions busily gear up for the coming party election. As such, the party is not expected to help Anwar soothe the uneasiness within the Malay society.

To fend off the endless racist and religious onslaughts from PN and Tun Dr Mahathir, Anwar will need to prove his worth through good governance and development. Having fought his way

against the odds to Putrajaya, Anwar must be insistent in the defence of the country’s diversity and have faith in its strength in facing the tough challenges from his mono-ethnic opponents in order to leave behind a laudable political legacy for posterity.

How far Anwar can go from here after his first 100 days in office will very much depend on what kind of political legacy he wants to leave behind for the future generations.

In the meantime, Anwar must also be wary of possible cracks within his government if he doesn’t want to let go of the power in hand at the slightest oversight.

This is going to be a new challenge confronting the PM!

The writer is the editor-in-chief of Sin Chew Daily. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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