Can Madani offer anything other than political stability?

Kenneth Cheng Chee Kin

Credit must go to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for restoring political stability in Malaysia. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 3, 2023.

WHATEVER the flaws of the Anwar Ibrahim administration, one cannot overlook the political stability that has prevailed in Malaysia.

Credit must go to the prime minister, who is perhaps the only politician in this country who has been able to unite two warring coalitions to form the government.

While the opposition continually desires a repeat of the Sheraton Move, Anwar has managed to deflect its manoeuvres and maintain government cohesion, accomplishments that had eluded his predecessors since 2018.

In the post-BN era, Anwar emerges as a potential leader capable of navigating Malaysia’s deep divisions. His Islamic activism, presented in the language of moderation, reflects the nation’s political reality, making him an acceptable leader to many.

Anwar’s emphasis on his Malay-Islamic credentials and policies catering to religious concerns eases fears of a secular takeover under his leadership. Despite not aligning with the preferences of conservative Malays, his leadership remains acceptable due to these assurances.

While minorities currently support the ruling coalition, dissatisfaction with the opposition ensures their loyalty, at least for now. The year-long political stability in Malaysia is not coincidental, marking Anwar’s significant achievement in navigating complex political constraints.

However, this stability, while prioritised by some, may prove detrimental to a government elected on the promise of reform. Although appealing in the aftermath of five tumultuous years with four different prime ministers, this “sterile” stability may mask underlying issues.

Economically, Malaysia faces challenges, with citizens squeezed by a cost-of-living crisis. The Madani economic framework lacks concrete implementation, potentially failing to resonate with citizens, especially when the government overlooks the cost-of-living crisis.

Moreover, rising political intolerance and internal divisions suggest that the apparent stability may be superficial. Anwar’s strategy to win back Malay votes at the expense of reforms has not materialised, contributing to skepticism from conservatives and alienation from his base.

The government finds itself squeezed from both sides, reluctant to compromise and appearing indecisive. This political stability arises from the government’s inability to govern effectively, opting for the status quo to avoid unsettling conservative sentiments.

Achieving permanent political stability is futile if the government cannot fulfil the people’s mandate for change and reform. While no one desires political instability, those who voted for Anwar seek both stability and meaningful reform. – December 3, 2023.

* Kenneth Cheng has always been interested in the interplay between human rights and government but more importantly he is a father of two cats, Tangyuan and Toufu. When he is not attending to his feline matters, he is most likely reading books about politics and human rights or playing video games. He is a firm believer in the dictum “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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