A cabinet in the shadows. Jeng! Jeng! Jeng!

umar mukhtar

Umar Mukhtar

Or a cabinet of shadows, or a cabinet of shadowy characters, or shadows in the cabinet, or whatever. If it meant that Pakatan Rakyat was striving to choose from among themselves persons to scrutinise the policies, the ministers and the conduct and performance of the specific functions of government like that practised in the United Kingdom, that is like reaching for the moon for the loose gang called Pakatan Rakyat.

Anwar Ibrahim was announced to be wanting to do that soon after the elation of the 2008 general elections ‘victory’. Then it dawned upon him the reality that PR was just an electoral pact and he was powerless as a shadow Prime Minister. It was just not the same thing as the real one. They hated each other’s guts and didn’t give two hoots to the shadow PM.

Anwar went through the exercise of listing the ministries by degree of importance. And then the quantum of each party’s total ministries. He stopped short. Right there. Different ideologies became too apparent. The underlying sentiment and conclusion was honestly that the parties were not interested to work together if it means giving up its self-proclaimed superiority just so they can try to appear as a coalition. No configuration was good enough and there was no hand strong enough to twist arms

Pushing the envelop would risk the new fragile relationship breaking apart. And Anwar couldn’t afford for this tied-together-with-vines-of-common-hatred bamboo raft to break apart before he gets across the river and be the PM. He had no solution but he had learnt when as deputy to Dr Mahathir that a real PM can call the shots, and everybody will ‘kow-tim’.

So let him be a PM first, meanwhile just tolerate each other’s idoisyncracies. And that thinking grew to be Anwar’s personal philosophy ruling over PR. When confronted with tedious problems, he will say earnestly,”I’ll solve that when I become PM.” It was almost comical but it was good enough for his brood. If you listen to Anwar, to be a PM sounded like being a dictator or a magician, or a sharman. Take you pick. All dodgy.

So this rickety car called PR was presented to the public as an F1 racer. Just don’t race it, don’t even touch it, just let Anwar pose beside it for the media like Lewis Hamilton. So no shadow cabinet. He would dictate it’s real composition as PM. And that went for everything else that can shake-up the rickety car. But the car was still popular because people didn’t get to see it race yet.

So now his wife who was never in the discussions and missed the action, and is understandably blur about the challenges, unilaterally announced the prospective forming of a shadow cabinet. Is she out of her mind? She will succeed where her husband failed? After a brief firestorm, she announced a profound finding — PR is not ready. Ahem, where were you the last seven years of heavy discussion, Rip Van Winkle?

For years Anwar ‘bagaikan menatang minyak yang penuh‘ to keep a fine balance between the unlikely partners. It would have been a tremendous achievement if he had been able just to do that — sincerely and honestly. But he lied, he double-talked, and he lied, and he acted, and he lied and sand got into his ears. “Shortcuts at leadership”. That should be the book he is writing now in prison.

Now the parties are bearing the brunt of his double-talk. Don’t tell me these leaders didn’t know each other’s inclinations after years of sleeping together. But Anwar kept flaunting the mirage of being in power to keep them salivating and together. Now that he is gone, there’s nobody to do that, and the catfights break out. Please keep the screeching noise down, it’s unbecoming of a government-in-waiting.

Eventually, there will be a shadow cabinet filled with Anwar’s students of shadow-play. The “Tukang Karut” is in jail and the audience is thinning.