Anwar’s coalition may be brought down by ‘inconvenient matrimonial’ feud

(Focus Malaysia) – A MODERN-DAY Malaysian Rip Van Winkle who woke up from a six-month slumber yesterday can be forgiven for thinking that the country’s political landscape has not changed much since the 15th General Election (GE15).

The national poll saw Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made Prime Minister (PM) after winning support from several disparate parties. But beyond that, little has changed.

The coalition parties Anwar cobbled together had been at loggerheads for the longest time. And they are still at it despite supposedly being on the same political side now.

To paraphrase ex-PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, this unholy alliance is like a forced marriage of convenience. He stopped short of saying that this political matrimony is set to crumble – as most marriages not built on trust and love are.

And who can blame Ismail Sabri when coalition partners in Anwar’s unity government do not even have the decency to bury their “marital woes” but chose to openly bicker about their differences?

For example, DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang openly sparred with UMNO stalwart and ex-deputy minister Datuk Dr Puad Zakarshi over UMNO’s decision to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to set jailed former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak free.

Kit Siang had said that freeing Najib would impede efforts to reinvigorate UMNO. Puad responded by telling the veteran lawmaker to just shut up – openly – without blunting his words and with the same arrogance UMNO was known for. Bad blood truly runs deep between the two parties.

Old time animosity

MCA and DAP, too, have no compunction about openly quarrelling as they have for decades. Supremos from both parties – MCA’s Wee Ka Siong, an ex-Transport Minister, and current Minister, DAP’s Anthony Loke – traded barbs and insults about alleged exorbitant airfares to Tawau during the Hari Raya period.

Or when MCA asked Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar from the DAP to go on leave after two of his officers were hauled up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over a corruption scandal.

The DAP shot back asking why the MCA had stayed silent when Najib plundered the country – opening old wounds between both parties.

It’s not just MCA asking Sivakumar to go on leave. PKR’s Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim had also done the same in a move that is sure to test the ties within the fragile coalition.

Across the South China Sea, it was quite clear that the DAP and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had not quite buried the hatchet despite saying otherwise. DAP’s Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and the state government had gotten into a shameless war of words over the latter’s plans to set up a boutique airline.

In any case, the Sarawak chapter of DAP has announced that it intends to stay as the opposition in the state legislative assembly. How does that even work or be sustainable? At the Federal level, DAP and GPS are buddies but at the state level they are sworn enemies? Isn’t that like a couple keeping their marriage in the morning and staying divorced at night?

What kind of marriage is this unity government monstrosity? A popular adage says that marital problems start to creep in during the seventh year, hence the “seven-year itch”. But Anwar’s government is not even seven months old and appears to be imploding already.

What’s more ironic is that Loke, presumably worried about the spate of “friendly fires” within the unity government, had recently accused Perikatan Nasional (PN) of willing to stop at nothing to bring down the federal government.

Like seriously? The unity government does a much better job at bringing down Anwar than PN ever will. The coalition partners in the unity government are shooting themselves in the foot everyday so it’s a stretch to blame PN for its eventual downfall.

And if the Rip Van Winkle mentioned at the start of this article were to stay asleep for a few months more, he may then wake up to the exact political landscape like pre-GE15 – a world where UMNO and DAP as well as MCA and DAP fights daily and Anwar is not the PM.