Anwar urged to prioritise economy, race relations, kitchen table issues

Noel Achariam

PRIME Minister Anwar Ibrahim must first address issues of the economy and inter-ethnic relations upon taking the top post, political observers said.

They said Anwar’s experience as a former finance minister will be useful in raising country’s economic status and drafting the national budget.

People are also looking forward to reforms to ease the high cost of living.

International Islamic University of Malaysia’s Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar said Anwar’s early challenges will be to address extremism.

He said Anwat must also restore confidence in Malaysia as a stable country.

“Malaysians can expect a more inclusive government that looks into the grievances of the different segments of society.

“His main focus should be bread-and-butter issues and managing inter-ethnic relations in the country,” Tunku Mohar told The Malaysian Insight.

Anwar was sworn in as the country’s 10th prime minister in Istana Negara yesterday evening.

PH is set to form a unity government with Barisan Nasional and GPS.

Anwar Ibrahim holds his first press conference as the prime minister of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday night. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, November 25, 2022.

Tunku Mohar said that based on PH’s manifesto and Anwar’s election speeches the people can expect many reforms.

“We can expect efforts to plug economic leakages and fiscal amd market reforms.

He said Anwar has the necessary experience to take the economy out of a slump.

“Anwar can help bring about institutional reforms, restore investors’ confidence and moderate extremist views.”

On whether Anwar will have a bloated cabinet, he said the agreement between PH and BN placed emphasis on proportion.

“He would at least trim down the cabinet.”

Oh Ei Sun of the Pacific Research Center of Malaysia said the first thing Anwar needs to do is to get Budget 2023 passed in the Dewan Rakyat.

“His first challenge is to get the budget passed. This is a specific challenge because Malaysia needs a budget going into 2023,” he said.

He said the passage of the supply bill would serve as a vote of confidence for Anwar as Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin continues to insist he has the sworn statements of 115  MPs backing him as the prime minister.

“If Anwar gets the budget passed then he has parliamentary support. Otherwise the MPs will have to decide (whether he has the majority),” said Oh.

“Most importantly he must also look into revitalising the economy, bringing down inflation and creating more jobs. (He must also) look into strengthening the ringgit, providing adequate food supply and social economic matters.”

Oh said another challenge is healing the divide between Malaysians.

“Reformists and progressives and conservatives voted for him. So how can he unite and bring these groups together?”

On the size of his cabinet, Oh expected Anwar to appoint fewer than 30 ministers.

Political observer Dr Mazlan Ali of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said Anwar would be looking into economic recovery, unity and income opportunities for the people.

“Anwar will immediately focus on solving economic and socio-economic issues among the people. He will have a cabinet with a clear mission and vision.”

He said the people are hopeful that Anwar will improve the economy, raise the value of the ringgit, grow foreign direct investment, strengthen unity and fight extremists.

Mazlan said Anwar’s challenge will be to strengthen support in parliament and forster relationships with the parties in the unity government to ensure stability.

“The unity government is something new for Malaysia but it is a good choice when there is a hung parliament.” – November 25, 2022.

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