Anwar’s credibility quandary: Zahid’s DNAA and the dilemma of Cabinet reshuffling

Although Umno seems to need PH, the latter also needs Umno and based on the changing of government in the past, it showed that Umno can do anything”

(Sinar Daily) – It was an inevitable blowback that perhaps only the densest few could not have foreseen and when struck, it cast a domineering shadow on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar’s credibility.

So much so that the High Court verdict of his deputy, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is still making headlines, generating buzz despite a fortnight has passed since its controversial Sept 4 debut.

Critics now brandish all manner of ammunitions over Zahid’s discharge-not-amounting-to-acquittal (DNAA) that freed him from 47 corruption charges; a feat made possible only because the prosecution withdrew its pursuit.

It may have been unintentional, but such an outcome inadvertently confirmed detractors’ speculation since Anwar was sworn in as PM after finally ending the political deadlock of a hung parliament.

The alleged conjecture was simple: somehow, Zahid will be saved in exchange for Umno’s support to Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“If he genuinely believed in the legal system and his own innocence, he should not have been afraid and should have prioritised the party’s interests and should not have put Umno’s mandates aside,” argued Dr Abdul Aziz Azizam from Universiti Teknologi Mara.

Aziz was referring to the ‘No DAP! No Anwar! No Bersatu!’ motion that was filed and accepted by Umno in its 2021 general assembly.

“Zahid didn’t need to take the actions that he did. Demonstrating such integrity would have instilled greater confidence in the public, both in Umno and in himself,” added the senior lecturer from the faculty of communication and media studies.

In a bid to stem the groundswell against him, Anwar argued that Zahid’s 47 charges were not professionally carried out and would have had no basis in law.

However, what spoiled this particular school of thought was that prima facie was already established; if the court has deemed so, then it merited a proper trial.

And the lack thereof emboldened vocal critics – especially political enemies – in condemning Anwar.

On Saturday last week, as Malaysia celebrated its birthday, Malaysia Day, Anwar’s detractors have congregated in the capital.

They launch relentless volleys at Anwar, hoping that the masses could see him with an unkind lens; a leader less radiant in integrity and moral rectitude, far from the beacon of virtue than he claimed.

But while they were loud and boisterous, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid maintained that the Sept 16 protest was harmless compared to previous demonstrations.

It attracted only about 1,000 participants, Fauzi pointed out, and was deprived of leadership as the main leaders from Perikatan Nasional and even the youth leaders were absent.

“It was nowhere near the scale of the Reformasi protest or the anti-ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination) demonstration.

“The protest would hardly have any threatening impact on the government’s stability.

“It was a pale shadow of larger sentiments within the population,” argued Fauzi.

Threatening or not, it is indisputable that Zahid’s DNAA has sullied the government’s image which was an unneeded bane given PH and Umno’s dismal performance in the Aug 12 state elections in Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.

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