Analyst: Anwar’s acid tests are Budget 2023 and state polls

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Parliament Feb 13, 2023.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah expressed hope that after four years as King, he would not have to swear in another prime minister after doing so for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Al-Sultan Abdullah said this after opening the second session of Malaysia’s 15th Parliament sitting this morning.

The Pahang monarch is the only Agong to have had four prime ministers during his reign.

Dr Mahathir’s resignation on Feb 24, 2020, started a series of political impasses with no clear majority, exacerbated by a weakening global and national economy, topped off by the crippling effects of a worldwide pandemic.

After much infighting and numerous changes in leadership, the country went to the polls on Nov 18, 2022.

Anwar assumed office after leading Pakatan Harapan to a narrow victory but did not have the necessary numbers to form a simple majority. He cobbled together a ‘unity government’ with several former political adversaries. However, there is a strong opposition block in the form of Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Political analyst Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk said the Agong could get his wish if Anwar delivers a good budget on Feb 24, as there has been nothing much to shout about, nearly three months after GE15.

“Anwar has been in power for nearly three months, but what has he got to show for it?” asked Azeem, who is director of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies.

“It has not been a remarkable three months, and the government has made some mistakes.

“That is not to say it has been a total disaster, but it could have been better.”

Azeem said if Anwar can deliver a people’s budget, it would buy him time to implement the changes he needs to make.

But the next test would be the six state elections due by July. The states going to the polls are Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu.

“Anwar’s government is dependent on his good relationship with Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,” said Azeem.

“If Ahmad Zahid’s people fail to do well in the state elections, I believe people within, and outside of the government, will start feeling anxious.

“A lot also depends on the outcome of the Selangor and Negeri Sembilan polls. If these two states fall to PN, it could result in some interesting decisions.”

Observers believe Umno will be wiped out in the state elections.

Meanwhile, Al-Sultan Abdullah opened the Parliament session by expressing his sadness for the colossal loss of life in the earthquakes in Syria and Turkiye. He expressed condolences to the people of both nations affected by the tragedy.

The Agong and MPs later offered prayers to the victims of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which has so far claimed more than 34,000 lives.