Anwar Ibrahim is our new Prime Minister. Now begins the arduous task of forming a cabinet from among the pull-and-shove political groups who are lending their support to him.
Anwar has the onerous task of accommodating the demands of the political coalitions in the ‘unity government’ – while ensuring that the cabinet is made up of individuals of calibre, not deadwood.
Once the taxing task of forming a credible cabinet is done, the next stop will be 19 December, when Parliament is scheduled to reconvene.
In the spirit of true democratic principles, Anwar has announced he will seek a vote of confidence on the floor of the house – a motion that the back-door Mahiaddin Yasin-led and Ismail Sabri Yaakob-led governments did not have the courage to table.
With the numbers pledged to Anwar’s government, there is little doubt his motion will succeed – unless some devil’s advocate moves the pawns to checkmate the king!
Next, Anwar will have to table the 2023 Budget. The challenges are well- defined – especially the rising cost of living and low wages, affecting low and middle-income wage earners and those entrapped in the informal sector.
Once past the initial minefield, he will have to come up with policies in line with Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto.
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If he does not have to contend with obnoxious ploys like the ‘Sheraton move’, Anwar will have the comfort of a full term to implement a wide range of transformative measures – though that is easier said than done.
His administration will obviously be plagued by the race-and-religious based opposition bloc dominated by Pas. As the formal opposition, its representatives are likely to throw a spanner in the works at every turn to thwart a progressive transformation of the status quo.
Faced with such swirling sands, Anwar’s government will be roundly tested. A fleeting five years in government cannot, by any means, be enough to dismantle the ingrained decades-old quid-pro-quo political culture.
But the hope is that Anwar’s administration will strive to bring about realistic changes to the entrenched socioeconomic and political ecosystem.