Ismail Sabri Yaakob was named the country’s new Prime Minister on 20 August 2021, following a tumultuous period of uncertainty and public frustration over the previous Perikatan Nasional government headed by Mahiaddin Yasin.
Many see his chosen cabinet ministers and deputy ministers as a mirror image of the previous failed backdoor government.
Many people are concluding that time will tell, as they do not think there is any difference between Ismail Sabri’s new line-up and Mahiaddin’s 70-plus-member team.
They have due note of the PM’s first line of duty. His rushed trip to the flood-inundated district of Yan, Kedah, in a government executive jet accompanied by an unwieldy entourage of political wannabees; his being escorted to the flood-devastated by an unaccountable number of cars; and the mega billboard specially commissioned and erected at the crisis site to “welcome and congratulate” the new prime minister – all these undoubtedly did not augur well for the ‘best choice’ PM of Malaysia.
Many ordinary people did not take kindly to nor appreciate such a lavish show and the lack of sensitivity at a time when they are suffering from job losses and mounting difficulties as they struggle to even feed and shelter their families.
Globally, the international press has labelled the Malaysian government a ‘recycled government’. It certainly does not earn the country a good impression with this newly installed Malaysian government. We can choose to ignore or even condemn these foreign reports, but the world’s business investors will not.
Patriot is concerned about the notable lack of excitement among Malaysians across the nation. The jubilation is shared only among those being reappointed as ministers and deputies, along with their lackeys.
Patriot concurs with the prevailing public opinion that it is the same old bus loaded with the same passengers, but driven by a new driver. That the cabinet remains as bloated as the preceding bandwagon and has the same faces explains the unsavory perceptions shared widely over social media.
The people are asking how will the third prime minister in three years lead the country out of the pandemic, which is clearly worsening by the day. Will he ever succeed in rescuing the ailing economy.
Patriot believes that the pressing issues that besieged the previous PN-led government have now fallen onto the shoulders of the same politicians and appointees in Ismail Sabri ‘new’ administration.
“Upon listening to the rakyat we are of the opinion too that drastic changes and strategic sacrifices have to be made if Ismail Sabri aims to steer the nation’s wellbeing away from an imminent shipwreck,” retired Brigadier General Mohd Arshad Raji said.
“However, we see little hope for changes to be effected and to [take] root if those appointed to ministerial positions continue to remain aloof or indifferent to public criticisms.
“Public servants labelling public criticisms as ‘dissenting voices’ or as ‘frustrated, irrational individuals and organisations are to simply deflect and distort truth.
“And rebutting patriotic citizens’ concerns in public by deeming them as ‘anti-government’ as is the common line of defence further erodes any residues of trust left,” the Patriot president added.
In no uncertain terms, Patriot reminds the new government that there are numerous urgent and unresolved issues plaguing the nation. The PM’s 100 days’ grace period for his team to perform is a luxury that suffering Malaysia cannot afford.
The people are stressed out to extreme levels by the unresolved health, social and economic issues.
If the government adopts a lackadaisical attitude and fails to confront these issues head on, the country will be saddled with more disastrous eventualities. Any failure to heal and save the country from its sinking situation will falls squarely upon Ismail Sabri as the steward of the nation.
“You cannot have the crown and get away with failures,” the retired brigadier general warned.
Patriot urges the government to adopt with speed a truly people-centred government if at all the PM’s “Malaysian family” concept is to succeed.
This incoming Umno-Bersatu-Pas alliance must dump and discard the overused currency of racial, religious and royalty overtures to placate the public and to entrench popular support among the Malays and Muslims in particular.
Retired Brigadier General Dato’ Mohd Arshad Raji is president of the National Patriots Association (Patriot)