Anwar’s government might be strong, but his mandate to rule is weak

The only reason people abide by him is because 1) we don’t really have any other option and 2) we are to an extent supportive of his desire to settle old scores.

Nehru Sathiamoorthy

Legally speaking, Anwar’s control of the government is likely unassailable. The sixth Bersatu MP has switched side to give his allegiance to Anwar. The Dubai Move, purportedly hatched last month by Anwar’s opponent to topple his government, has fizzled. Raja Petra Kamaruddin of Malaysia-Today has even thrown in the towel to argue that Anwar will likely continue to reign for another 10 years.

But saying that, Anwar’s strength is only palpable amongst politicians and lawmakers.

Amongst the public however, his approval rating is likely lukewarm at best. If you randomly ask the public, what do they think about Anwar, regardless of race, class or age group, you will have to ask many people before you find one person who will have something positive to say about him.

If I were to express it, I would say that Anwar’s current status in the eye of the public is as a politician and a man who has a score to settle. Nobody believes he is a hero or a reformist or even an above average leader. He is not seen as a figure worth emulating, his words don’t mean much, it is doubtful whether he is capable of solving the nation’s problem and he is not someone who we can count on to bring about a meaningful change.

The only reason people abide by him is because 1) we don’t really have any other option and 2) we are to an extent supportive of his desire to settle old scores.

Anwar is lucky in that there is no Malay leader in either Pakatan or Perikatan who can challenge his position, despite the low standard of his leadership.

The other top Malay leaders in the country are all weak. As poor as Anwar is as a leader, Zahid Hamidi of UMNO, Muhyiddin Yassin of Bersatu and Hadi Awang of PAS are even worse.

Anwar is so weak that if Najib was pardoned or Khairy could run against Zahid today, he might lose his job tomorrow. It is his good fortune that Khairy is nowhere close to returning to Umno and Najib is not expected to be released for at least a couple of more years.

While Anwar looks like he is just a step or two away from taking down his arch nemesis, Mahathir, perhaps he should think twice before moving in for the kill.

At present, Most Malaysians likely only see Anwar as worth it for his ability to take down the members of the ancien regime like Mahathir and Daim, who stubbornly refuse to go gently into the night. If Anwar takes them down, it is hard to see what worth Anwar has to offer the country anymore.

As long as Mahathir is around, people might see the need of having Anwar around too, to stand up against Mahathir.

The minute Anwar takes down Mahathir however, I will bet my last ringgit that all of us will start to look at Anwar while wondering to what purpose do we have to still have to have him around. He is old, three quarters of the things he says have to be taken with a pinch of salt, he doesn’t know how to move the economy forward and he is not an uniting figure who is capable of uniting the country.

If Anwar takes down Mahathir and if PAS manages to install Dr Ahmad Samsuri as its contender for PM, I daresay that the Malays might become more motivated to initiate a PN  take over of the government, while the non-Malays might not really be that motivated throw that big a fuss if Anwar is toppled.

I think the one saving grace that Anwar will have in the post-Mahathir Malaysia is the successful implementation of the targeted subsidies. If Anwar’s government does manage to rebalance our economic landscape in a way that assists the poor, as they plan to do beginning from the middle of 2024, then maybe Anwar might see the support of the working class for his administration, which will be enough for him to sustain his administration.

If not, I reckon that for Anwar to stay as the PM of Malaysia, it might be well that he stops desiring to settle his score with Mahathir, and prays for Mahathir’s longevity instead.