One of the biggest ironies in PM Anwar Ibrahim’s administration is that his biggest asset is also his largest liability. And that person is his DPM, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The BN chairman Zahid has played a key role in ensuring support for Anwar to be PM following the last general election as the coalition has 30 MPs. Without the backing, Anwar would not have realised his long-held dream of becoming the PM.
And now that Anwar has 148 of the 222 MPs on his side, his Madani government is rock-solid – at least in theory. But the reality is that it is Zahid himself who is fast chipping away public support for the Anwar administration.
Leaving aside his appointment as DPM despite facing 47 pending corruption charges, Zahid has, since Day One, trampled on the Madani principles with reckless impunity.
Take Anwar’s pledge of no political appointees in his Government – which is one of the first commitments he made after being sworn in as the country’s 10th PM. While Pakatan Harapan parties have largely (not wholly) kept to the promise, Barisan Nasional, particularly Umno, has thumbed its nose to the idea.
The latest is former Umno Minister Reezal Marican, who was made MATRADE chairman. His appointment is in a long line of political appointments from Umno post-GE15 which is part of Zahid’s machinations to stay in power. Other Umno appointees were Ahmad Jazlan Yaakob (Felcra chairman); Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki MARA and Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad (RISDA).
Why is it that Anwar allows Umno, arguably the most disliked party in the unity government, to ride roughshod in his administration while other parties had to toe the line?
And why did Anwar not chastise Umno for officially seeking the release of ex-PM Najib Razak, who’s serving a 12-year jail sentence. Has Anwar forgotten that one of the reasons he was voted to power last November was because of voters’ resentment towards BN-Umno, as embodied by Najib, who’s guilty of plundering the country through 1MDB?
And how is it that Zahid is not only allowed to get back his passport despite facing corruption charges, but has managed to get his corruption case postponed because prosecutors were instructed not to object to his lawyer’s application? This is despite the fact that prosecutors have made a prima facie case against him. Whatever happened to the good governance which PH has stood for in the past?
The rakyat now watches with much trepidation how Zahid has been able to do as he pleases at the expense of support for the unity government, especially in the upcoming elections in six states.
There are red lines that must not be crossed but Zahid has not only done so brazenly, but time and again as if he is politically untouchable.
The time has come for Anwar to take a strong stance before he finds out the hard way during the state elections, that the rakyat do not tolerate the misrule synonymous with BN that has started to speedily spread like an aggressive cancer into the current Government.
Just as doctors would usually advise cancer patients to remove malignant growths before they spread, Anwar should just cut off Umno from his administration, or risk having the party be the cause of his downfall.
Even with BN out of the picture, Anwar will still have enough support from MPs to hold on to power and push through the reforms he had envisioned since his days in Umno.
But if Anwar doesn’t severe ties with Umno and Zahid soon, PMX will, like cancer patients who refuse to remove cancerous growth early, go through intense agony later on, that will likely cost his political life.
The views expressed here are strictly those of Yap Long Chuan from Petaling Jaya.