Will Anwar make it past 2 years?

Although 5 months might not look like much, Anwar does have a lot of obstacles to cross before he can reach that halfway point.

Nehru Sathiamoorthy

Whether we realise it or not, last week on June 24, Anwar Ibrahim’s reign has lasted for 19 months.

Since Najib fell in 2018, all succeeding governments in Malaysia  have been stricken with a shorter and shorter tenure.

The successor to Najib, Mahathir, managed to only last for 22 months. Muhyiddin who succeeded Mahathir lasted for 17 months. Ismail Sabri who succeeded Muhyiddin, currently holds the record as the shortest serving prime minister in Malaysia with just 15 months under his belt.

That Anwar, who succeeded Muhyiddin, has managed to break the trend by reigning for longer than Ismail Sabri and Muhyiddin, can thus be considered as having scored a minor achievement indeed, for his 19 months reign has broken the curse of having a shorter and shorter lifespan that has befallen all the governments in Malaysia since 2018.

Giving credit where credit is due, whether you are for him or not, you have to admit that it was no small feat for Anwar to keep his reign together for the last 19 months.

Anwar’s Madani government doesn’t have many things working for it. In contrast, the number of things that are working against it is quite staggering.

Considering everything, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that the government today is being held chiefly by the singular power of Anwar and Anwar alone; for without him, I feel that the Madani government would have long sank because of the overwhelming number of things that is working against it, in comparison to the low number of things that are working for it.

Under the prevailing conditions, I reckon there is only another politician in Malaysia who could have done what Anwar has done, and that politician is Mahathir, Anwar’s former mentor and arch nemesis. Other than Mahathir, I doubt whether there exists any other politicians that could have held together a government that does not have much going for it and a lot of things against it, for 19 long months. Even Mahathir, I reckon, would probably not be able to do what Anwar has done today, on account of his advanced age.

In my mind, looking at Anwar’s Madani government making it through these last 19 months is akin to looking at a dog or a cat walking on two legs. A dog or a cat that walks on two legs might not be walking well, but the very fact that it is walking at all is an impressive affair. If a cat or a dog was able to take 19 steps on two legs although you did not think that it could have walked at all in that way, or that it would have collapsed after taking 2 or 3 steps, is indeed such an astonishing affair, that you can’t help but clap your hands and say bravo after you see it accomplished.

The lion’s share of the kudos for such an achievement, I truly believe, does go to Anwar.

With a combination of daring, shamelessness, confidence, flattery, charisma, hard work, shenanigans, noble aims, ruthlessness, intrigue and trickery, he has achieved something that no one else could have probably achieved in the country.

Now I know some of you might be asking, but is it good for the country that Anwar’s government has lasted for so long, but rather than address that question, I would rather explore the question as to how long more will Anwar’s government need to last in order to last for one full term.

I don’t know whether Anwar’s government, in and of itself, is something that is good for the country, but I do know that nobody in the world is going to have much confidence or respect for our country until we have a government that can last for one full term.

Considering that a maximum term of governance in Malaysia is 5 years, the halfway point would be 2.5 years. Once Anwar crosses the halfway point, I think we can safely conclude that he will be able to last for a full term, for then he would have crossed a point where the end would be closer than the beginning.

I don’t even think that he has to cross the 2.5 years mark in order to cross the halfway point. I think he just needs to cross the 2 years mark to cross the halfway point. Once he celebrates his second anniversary, I think everybody in the country, like it or not, will be inclined to accept that Anwar is going to be here to stay until 2027.

Anwar has approximately another 5 months to go before he can celebrate his second year anniversary in November 2024.

Although 5 months might not look like much, Anwar does have a lot of obstacles to cross before he can reach that halfway point.

At the top of the list,  I would pick the subsidy rationalisation as the number 1 obstacle that might derail Anwar’s plan to make it to 2024. For as long as I remember my favourite Nasi Lemak Ayam Goreng at SS15 was sold for RM 9.50. As soon as the diesel rationalisation kicked in, it shot up to RM 11.50. If Anwar can’t control inflation that will inevitably occur due to the subsidy rationalisation, only God can save his government, because the people will be against it.

Other than the subsidy rationalisation, I would probably pick the fate of the 6 rebel MPs in the parliament as the second biggest challenge that Anwar’s government will have to face in the next 5 months. There is no question that the position of the 6 rebel MPs in the parliament is untenable. They will have to vacate their seat and a by-election will have to be called in their constituencies. The question however lies in the timing. Will the government be able to time the calling of the by-election in the 6 seats to its advantage, or will developing events sweep the matter out of the government’s hand and cause the 6 by-elections to be held at such an inopportune time, that it will not only cause the government to lose the 6 seats, but also serve as a sort of referendum against its reign.

Other than that, the shenanigans of the government ministers, who are showing signs that they are being tempted by corruption and nepotism, as well as a developing feud between the royals – who are amongst Anwar’s strongest backers, and also the complications that might arise due to international affairs – like the one in regards to BlackRock and its relationship with the war in Gaza –  are other possible challenges that might derail Anwar’s ability to celebrate his second year anniversary.