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For Anwar, friendly fire a bigger threat than govt-opposition showdown

While disparate parties have come together to form the federal government, open bickering may pose more danger to its survival than anything else.

Yap Long Chuan
3 minute read

A modern-day Malaysian Rip Van Winkle who woke up from a six-month slumber yesterday could be forgiven for thinking that the country's political landscape had not changed much since the 15th general election (GE15).

The polls saw Anwar Ibrahim made prime minister after winning support from several disparate parties. But beyond that, little has changed. The coalition parties Anwar cobbled together had been at loggerheads for the longest time. And they are still at it despite supposedly being on the same political side now.

To paraphrase ex-prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, this unholy alliance is like a forced marriage of convenience. He stopped short of saying that this political matrimony is set to crumble – as most marriages not built on trust and love are.

And who can blame Ismail when the coalition partners in Anwar's government do not even have the decency to bury their "marital woes" but choose to openly bicker about their differences? 

For example, DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang openly sparred with Umno stalwart and ex-deputy minister Puad Zakarshi over Umno's decision to appeal to the Agong to set jailed former prime minister Najib Razak free. 

Lim said that freeing Najib would impede efforts to reinvigorate Umno. Puad responded by telling Lim to just shut up – openly, without blunting his words and with the arrogance Umno is known for. Bad blood truly runs deep between the two parties.

MCA and DAP, too, have no compunctions about openly quarrelling as they have for decades. Supremos from both parties – MCA's Wee Ka Siong, an ex-transport minister, and current minister, DAP's Anthony Loke – traded barbs and insults about alleged exorbitant airfares to Tawau during the Hari Raya period. 

Or when MCA asked Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar from DAP to go on leave after two of his officers were hauled up by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over a corruption scandal – DAP shot back, asking why MCA had stayed silent when Najib plundered the country, opening old wounds between both parties.

It's not just MCA asking Sivakumar to go on leave. PKR's Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim also did the same in a move that is sure to test ties within the fragile coalition.

And across the South China Sea, it is quite clear that DAP and Gabungan Parti Sarawak have not quite buried the hatchet despite saying otherwise. DAP's Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and the state government got into a shameless war of words over the latter's plans to set up a boutique airline.

In any case, the Sarawak chapter of DAP has announced that it intends to stay as the opposition in the state legislative assembly. How does that even work, and how is it sustainable? At the federal level, DAP and GPS are buddies, but at the state level they are sworn enemies? Isn't that like a couple keeping their marriage in the morning and staying divorced at night? 

What kind of marriage is this government monstrosity? A popular adage says that marital problems start to creep in during the seventh year, hence the "seven-year itch". Anwar's government is not even seven months old but appears to be imploding already.

What's more ironic is that Loke, presumably worried about the spate of "friendly fire" within the government, recently accused Perikatan Nasional (PN) of being willing to stop at nothing to bring down the federal government. 

Seriously? The government is doing a much better job at bringing down Anwar than PN ever will. The coalition partners in the government are shooting themselves in the foot every day, so it would be a stretch to blame PN for its eventual downfall.

And if the Rip Van Winkle mentioned at the start of this article were to stay asleep for a few months more, he might wake up to the exact political landscape that we had pre-GE15 – a world where Umno and DAP, as well as MCA and DAP, fight daily and Anwar is not the prime minister.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.

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