Anwar’s Cabinet is less about morals than political expediency?

Perhaps, Anwar is being shrewd in making Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof as his second DPM because should Zahid fall at the court battlefield – throwing UMNO into disarray – there is no need to find a replacement.

Philip Rodrigues, Focus Malaysia

WHEN Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced the Cabinet line-up on Dec 2, all minds were focused on the one post that matters the most: who will be the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM)?

The post went to UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi – an erstwhile political foe who could have occupied the top position himself had his party won the 15th General Election (GE15) convincingly.

Zahid is back in his old portfolio and will he now help Anwar govern the country in the true spirit of unity?

Cracks in the unity government will not appear – at least for the time being – as the new leaner Cabinet gets down to work.

Zahid will not want to rock the boat when things are looking up for him in this dramatic turn of events that had catapulted him to the second highest post in the country.

This is a honeymoon period where everyone appointed to the Cabinet would toe the line and concentrate on his or her job.

But there is no guarantee that the voices of dissent within the government would remain silent. Flare-ups would occur over issues – minor or serious – that could eventually lead to the break-up of this political marriage.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

And Zahid is the man who can play a pivotal role in either keeping the union alive or seeing this “child” of democracy perish prematurely.

The UMNO man can suddenly pull the rug from under Anwar and throw his support behind Perikatan Nasional (PN) or pull out of the coalition and stay neutral.

Calculated risk

How things might turn out for Zahid might – to a large extent – depend on how his court case plays out. His second ongoing corruption trial where he is defending himself could spell the end of his political career – if he is found guilty – or could give him a new lease of political life if he walks away free.

Anwar took a calculated risk to rope in Zahid into the Cabinet. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman fought hard during the 15th General Election (GE15) campaign against corruption and people expected him to live up to his high moral standard.

Now, Anwar did a U-turn and brought into his Cabinet someone who is accused of the very disease that is abhorrent to all those who want a clean government.

Now, the ringing battle cry against the evil of corruption has lost some of its moral force, giving the unity government a shaky start.

But what can Anwar do? With one hand tied behind his back, he is walking on a tight rope to keep all his coalition allies on an even keel.

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