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From PD to Parliament and Putrajaya

  • Not currently holding a government position, Anwar can play a pivotal role to bridge the gap between ordinary citizens and the administration. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

PKR incoming president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's thumping victory in Port Dickson by-election with an expanded majority from that of GE14 shows that Pakatan Harapan and Anwar continue to win the support of majority of voters despite the many controversies.

That said, there are something good and not so good about this.

On the positive side, Anwar won more than 71% of popular votes, enough of support for a "prime minister in waiting".

Besides Chinese and Indian votes, Anwar also secured a sizeable chunk of Malay votes, especially in Umno's Linggi and Bagan Pinang state constituencies.

In the meantime, former menteri besar Isa Samad lost his deposit, underscoring the waning influences of Umno in the state.

Additionally, Anwar's military votes also expanded remarkably by about 122%, while Mohd Saiful's 82 votes shows that an attempt to reawaken the sodomy case has failed badly.

PAS candidate Mohd Nazari Mokhtar clinched 862 more votes than what his party's won in GE14. and we cannot rule out the possibility that indeed some Umno supporters voted for PAS. However, PAS' influences in this mixed constituency have been limited and in no way pose a real threat to PH.

On the flip side of the event, the voter turnout was only 58.25%. Despite the effort to portray the by-election as a landmark event to pick the country's next prime minister, the turnout was significantly lower than the 70% anticipated. This shows that many voters are not agreeable to the tactic of creating a by-election just to put Anwar back in the Parliament, or they are simply unhappy with PH's performance over the past five months.

There were also reports of irregularities during the campaign period. As a matter of act, Anwar should be able to win big adhering to the rules. Unfortunately, his excessive ambition for a landslide win has left a not-so-glamorous legacy.

Anwar gets what he has wanted in the end, putting himself back in the Parliament hall alongside veteran representatives like Mahathir, Najib and Ahmad Zahid.

Nevertheless, Anwar's job in Dewan Rakyat is not to seek revenge or hammer the opposition but to push ahead parliamentary reforms, assist and oversee the PH government in a bid to dissolve public skepticism about the government while slowly building up his credibility as the PM-in-waiting.

We can safely say that PH has laid an excellent foundation and environment for Anwar to take over the baton. All that PH component parties need most at this moment is to bring themselves together to ensure internal stability and unity within the coalition.

Anwar needs to make sure that PKR leaders at all levels remain patient and not to raise unnecessary conflicts or challenge the status of Mahathir so that Anwar can take over peacefully once the two-year deadline draws to a close.

There are people who will attempt to sabotage PH, including internal and external opportunists. Anwar must be wise enough to tell between friends and foes and not to fall into the trap of rumor-mongers.

Malaysians have very high expectations from Anwar because they generally believe that Mahathir has gradually completed his historical missions of toppling the Najib administration and reforming government institutions. However, the prime minister's indecision, overly candid but hurtful remarks and his insistence in pushing ahead the third national car project, among others., have jeopardized his approval rating post-GE14.

Tun Mahathir also appears to have not put in much effort and energy to revitalize the ailing economy while his administrative philosophies are about a generation behind time.

In view of this, Anwar can prove through his own performance that he can do a better job than Tun M and win a much broader support base.

There are a host of issues lying ahead of us, but because Anwar does not hold any government position, he can only offer his views through the Parliament, PH presidential council and his interactions with Mahathir.

For instance, PH is concerned about the Malay votes, forcing it to become hesitant when it comes to issues like UEC recognition, New Economic Policy, LGBT, child marriage and other sensitive religious issues. Anwar should be authorized to handle the dialogues with Islamic and Malay organizations and to establish a bridge of understanding with the Malay community.

In order to preserve team spirit, freedom of speech within the coalition has been suppressed. Member parties that used to speak up fearlessly while in opposition have become much quieter today. As such, Anwar can consider setting up a forum to allow PH component parties to freely voice up on government policies so that their views could reach the ears of decision-makers. This will help minimize the incidence of flawed or unpopular government policies.

There are a number of key agendas in the current parliamentary session, including Budget 2019 and the abolition of death penalty. Anwar and other backbenchers must ensure that the government's policies meet the needs of ordinary citizens.

The building of a New Malaysia has been progressing at a relatively sluggish pace. It is therefore hoped that Anwar will breathe in a new lease of life into the administration to expedite the transformation of this country.

 

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