Surrounded by enemies: the forces aligning against Anwar

Within Anwar’s own coalition are those who fundamentally disapprove of Pakatan Harapan. They were forced into the coalition against their own will, and will do almost anything to undermine this government if the opportunities arise.

Murray Hunter, Asia News Network

Now that Anwar Ibrahim is prime minister, he must survey a barren landscape where his potential enemies are camouflaged against the scenery.

Anwar’s government is not a Pakatan Harapan one. It’s not quite a unity government. It’s a government founded upon the best compromise that could have been made at the completion of GE15.

The monarchy saw Anwar as a moderate center-right coalition in contrast to the far-right ethno-centric ultra-nationalist-Islamic opposition.

Anwar’s government was a bet made on steering some form of middle-path which the establishment saw was in the best interests of the nation. There is no doubt about that.

However, Anwar has a number of challenges ahead of him, least of all the several forces that will aim to destabilize him, if not even make him fall from government.

These can be summarized as follows.

A new parliamentary opposition

For the first time in decades the parliamentary opposition will be Malay-centric.

With the polarizing of the electoral results, Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) with PAS as the senior partner will play directly to the Malay heartlands, their only constituency. This is where the attacks on the new government, painting Jewish, communist and anti-Islamic labels is coming from.

These cannot be expected to go away anytime soon. PN doesn’t have to worry about non-Malay sentiment.

With corruption issues and upcoming court cases due against members of the new government, expect PN to suddenly become the anti-corruption coalition.

This is potentially Anwar’s weak spot, depending upon the composition of his cabinet which PN will capitalize upon.

Anwar may have to take the backfoot here over corruption issues among his coalition parties to keep it intact.

The opposition is supported by a massive social media apparatus. Over the last weeks of the election campaign, there were a number of hostile racial posts on social media and continued attacks upon the DAP after the election.

One can be sure that PAS is well resourced with trolls, bots, cybertroopers and some bloggers who will take the battle to the new government.

Taking these groups down by legal means could be very counterproductive while leaving them intact can be very destructive.

Anwar and his future home minister will need to be particularly sensitive in this area, so as not to create new heroes for the opposition.

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