We have a new prime minister and it should have been a time to do the ‘dance of joy’, but there were warnings not to gather in groups and instead, roadblocks were put up.
Why? What did ‘they’ – the police or anybody else – think would happen? Did they expect riots? We are all adults and those who voted for Pakatan Harapan would not have done anything to disrupt this hard-won election outcome despite what some may have thought.
Anwar Ibrahim, as the 10th Prime Minister, is now forming a unity government from a motley crew, which, apart from PH, includes Barisan Nasional, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.
Strange, wouldn’t you think? Not so long ago, these parties were quick to jump into the arms of PN. But only time will tell, because politicians in Sabah are known to be somewhat wishy-washy!
What would be the priorities of the new prime minister? Obviously, tackling the high cost of living, reviewing Budget 2023, forming a capable cabinet, getting rid of corruption and a lot more.
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There is also the urgent need to unite the nation, which is much-divided along ethnic and religious lines. Indeed, Anwar has to face a strong, conservative opposition.
Our nation risks becoming more divided and fragmented. The social fabric is already threatened by people discrediting others over social media and who appear righteous about silencing others.
What we need now, more than ever, is sincere dialogue in this new ‘unity government’. This is essential because, if the polarisation gains traction, it will be much harder to move towards a horizon where everybody works together to dissolve divisions by allowing for a new way of thinking, which is to persuade rather than butt heads with each other.
We can only achieve consensus in dialogue when we trust each other: we must look for the good together, and be willing to learn and share from each other, so that we can come up with solutions to benefit the country and the people.
Anwar’s new government will have many difficult hurdles to cross. A coalition government will not be easy to handle and some might ‘hold their support over his head’ as a kind of quid quo pro.
Sadly, the horse trading has already begun with BN apparently wanting to have one of its leaders as DPM.
Who will be Anwar’s choice? Will it be the party with the biggest bloc who holds the upper hand? Or will his choice be, as he said recently, someone who will support his policies and be “committed to good governance, anti-corruption and economic recovery”.
Hopefully, Anwar will take his own words seriously and ensure that everything will be open, honest and fair, so that the people, who are also stakeholders in this new government, can look forward to a peaceful and better future. Heaven help us from another ‘Sheraton move’ again!
With this kind of scenario, many will wonder how long this unity government will last, with all its diversity and the demands that will certainly be made. Will the leaders in government be able to put aside their own egos and come to a consensus?
It will be hard work and will require extreme patience and commitment but, if successful, it can bring about a stable, unified government that will bring about changes and new possibilities for the people and the entire country. We need to see what lies beyond today.
We, the people, must also realise that not all the issues can be resolved immediately. Sometimes we think that once a new government is in place, it will solve all the many crises within a short timeframe.
Solutions need to be found for immediate problems, like the cost of living, inflation, and the religious extremism that has created huge divisions among the ethnic Malays and the minorities.
The Malays, especially in rural areas, must be made to understand that the minorities are not interested in taking away any of their rights.
PH must also understand the needs of the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak who want to be part of the federal government as equal territories and who want their rights and interests to be upheld fairly.
That said, we need to temper our expectations. Many promises were made in the PH manifesto. Will any be fulfilled? We shall have to wait and see.
Anwar and his party, as with the other parties in the ‘unity government’, are all politicians, after all. Some are good and some are rotten and many may be in public office for their own ends, even under the guise of working for the people and the country.
We will only be able to judge this government in a few years’ time on what was done, what wasn’t and what couldn’t be done.
Patience – yes, we must, in all fairness, give the unity government the time it needs. But as the saying goes, time waits for no man!
jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time