- Advertisement -

Whither the Madani govt?

The gutsy politics associated with much-needed reforms seems to be a thing of the past.

P Ramasamy
4 minute read

The Madani or unity government of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will be marking its first anniversary in power in a few days. 

An opinion poll conducted by Merdeka Center paints the picture of a government that has gone down in popularity. 

Compared to earlier months, about 30% of the pollsters suggest that the government is heading in the right direction, while the majority think that it is directionless. 

Of course, some say that it is too early – just short of a year – to judge the performance of the government or Anwar. But there are indications that something is seriously wrong with the government. 

There is no need to wait for a full term to judge the Anwar government. It might just be too late. 

What is most glaring is the gap between what was promised when Pakatan Harapan (PH) was in the opposition and what is happening when it is in government. 

The promise or assurance to remove obnoxious laws such as the Sedition Act 1948, Security Measures (Special Offences) or Sosma and others remains unfulfilled. 

The worst part is, there are those in government justifying the use of this draconian legislation as necessary for security reasons. 

As long as these laws continue to exist and be enforced, there is little or no hope for reforms in the government. 

Anwar was at his level best when he was in the opposition, but today he might not be better than the former prime ministers. 

He spends more time outside the country, as though taking up the Palestinian issue would miraculously resolve economic and social problems in the country. 

Anwar should have relinquished the portfolio of finance minister some time ago. It is blatantly too much to hold two posts of high responsibility. 

One need not be a trained economist or financial expert to manage the economy. 

Anwar can’t even give intelligent answers to questions on the economy – what is the point of holding on to the position?

Strangely, when journalists ask him questions about the economy, he talks about his years in prison and how he met some of the world leaders. 

Anwar can talk about global issues, but he seems to have no answers on domestic matters such as the weakened ringgit, the food shortage, the horrific nature of the public transport system and many other unresolved issues affecting the poor and the neglected.

Anwar lacks the basic stature of statesmen to look at the country beyond the racial and religious lens. 

He might not have the support of the Malays, but this doesn’t mean that he completely neglects the pressing issues of the non-Malays. 

The one-sided nature of employment in the public sector, and the discrimination against the entrance of non-Malays to public universities and the matriculation system have raised questions, not just about the fairness of the political system, but also about how serious Malaysia is about preparing students for taking careers in science and technology. 

How can the government be regarded as fair and responsible when Malaysian non-Malays are not respected as full-fledged citizens?

What is the point of talking about affirmative action for all, immaterial of race or religion, for international consumption when affirmative action is only applied to one race on the basis of some criteria?

The ministers in the Madani government are not up to mark. They have forgotten what they said in the past about reforms and the need for change. 

Today, they are no different from the ministers in earlier governments. Some of them are not even capable of holding their posts because public accountability seems to be a rarity among them. 

Earlier talk of a Cabinet reshuffle seems to have dissipated. Probably Anwar is so preoccupied with the fate of the Palestinians that he has no time to address domestic problems. 

It is not that the Palestinian issue is not important, but up until today, Anwar has not ventured to propose a solution to the hundreds of years of conflict between the Palestinians and the state of Israel. 

While public opinion is gravitating towards a two-state solution as the ultimate answer to the conflict, Anwar is tight-lipped about it. 

Once, reforms were a significant part of the PH coalition. Today, there are only murmurs of reform. The gutsy politics associated with much-needed reforms seems to be a thing of the past. 

As some say, it is more appropriate to talk  about reforms but reformati – in other words, the end of reforms.

How can we talk about democracy and freedom when the Madani government is not averse to controlling the dissemination of information?

Several websites have been closed down by the communications ministry on grounds that they published information critical of the government. 

Whether one pays attention to opinion polls or not, the Madani government is in trouble.

P Ramasamy is a former deputy chief minister of Penang.

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