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Anwar resorting to 'optics' to seek Malay support, says Khairy

The former health minister says much of the image put forth by Anwar Ibrahim so far has been geared towards this 'political objective'.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Manila during a visit to the Philippines, March 2. Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Manila during a visit to the Philippines, March 2. Photo: Reuters

Former Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin says the image put forth by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is part of the PKR chief's efforts to increase Malay support for his government.

Speaking in a podcast with former Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan, Khairy said much of what Anwar was doing was his response to the Malay voters after learning that their support for Pakatan Harapan (PH) at the 15th general election was less than satisfactory. 

He cited the programmes organised with religious scholars, Anwar's interaction with Malay intellectuals, and even the wardrobe choices of the Tambun MP.

"Not only has he forgone wearing neckties, he even wears a songkok with his suit when he is on trips abroad," Khairy said. 

"There is an image of Pan Malay nationalism from what we saw in the 1950s during the era of Sukarno," he added, referring to the first president of Indonesia. 

"I see all of these optics as geared towards one political objective: to get the support of the Malays."

Khairy, a former health minister, said he would give the coalition government led by Barisan Nasional (BN) and PH a "B-" for its first 100 days in federal administration.

He said this was considered a good grade as it was far above the pass level although the long-term policies for the country were still vague. 

"There are many gaps in terms of the policies and performance of the Cabinet which are inconsistent," he said. 

"There are good ministers and there are those who do not stand out in helping the prime minister determine the country's direction.

"So a B- is good enough with (Ahmad) Zahid (Hamidi) as deputy prime minister," he added. 

Khairy said the next six months would be a crucial period for the government and prime minister to prove their ability to administer and manage the country. 

He said the focus, among others, would be on whether Anwar played the role of an "executive chairman" or "non-executive chairman" who sets the government's direction and philosophy and passes details to the Cabinet and chief secretary, or if he would be a "philosopher" and "manager". 

"When you want to drive reforms, you need a prime minister who is involved (in the implementation process) but does not interfere with the work of civil servants," Khairy said. 

"The first 100 days of this government have not been bad, but we want to look ahead to the next six months, to see if it has what it takes." 

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