by Phlip Rodrigues
Now that Anwar Ibrahim has taken charge of the country’s destiny, the big question hovering over him is, can he deliver the goods?
The new prime minister had campaigned hard to convince the people why they should vote for Pakatan Harapan, and he got the message through.
Although the PH chairperson did not get an overwhelming response, triggering a brief crisis, the happy ending brought enormous relief to the country and gave hope that unity in diversity would remain the bedrock of Malaysian society.
Anwar has to face many challenges in his efforts to craft policies that would meet the competing demands of the various ethnic groups, political parties and coalitions. He may be a prime minister of all the people of Malaysia but not everyone in Malaysians is for him.
The biggest threat to his government would come from a resurgent Pas whose ideology, politics and thinking are contrary to all the values cherished in a free society.
The ‘party of God’ will never give up its relentless quest for a system of government that mainly answers to its own clerical voice.
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The green tide that swept through the country has reinforced its conviction that its divisive politics of race and a conservative brand of religion are paying dividends.
For sure, Pas and its coalition partner Bersatu would not be giving Anwar an easy time. That their coalition, Perikatan Nasional, has refused to take part in a unity government is a foretaste of the hostile opposition that can be expected from them.
At every turn, the PM might run into fierce winds of resistance as PN chairperson Mahiaddin Yasin and Pas president Hadi Awang might try their level best to undermine the fragile PH-plus government.
Mahiaddin appears miffed that Anwar, and not him, was appointed PM because he believes PN has the numbers to form the government. Apparently, he thinks Anwar is bluffing and wants to call his bluff when Parliament reconvenes next month.
If Anwar survives a vote of confidence on 19 December, he can turn all his attention to the serious task of governance. This is where the real test of his leadership will come into play.
The prime minister has five years to steer the country into a safe harbour through choppy waters and shoals of hidden dangers.
The country will watch to see how this new captain does his job. Can he rise to the challenge? Can he find effective remedies for all the socioeconomic ills that go beyond racial borders?
Or will Anwar do a U-turn and pander to the baser instincts, the drumbeat of extremists and fanatics?
Whatever obstacles and hurdles Anwar will face in the coming years, the most important thing the new PM must do is to ensure that “justice will flow like water, and integrity like an unfailing stream”.
Phlip Rodrigues is a former journalist