Is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim leading a unity government or a ‘grand coalition’?
While the definition of a unity government has been widely debated, the general consensus as seen in other nations is that a unity government usually involves all major political parties, with only minor, or no opposition.
But that is not the case in Malaysia. Political analyst Associate Professor Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk pointed out that Perikatan Nasional, is in fact a strong opposition, having won 73 parliamentary seats in Malaysia’s 15th General Election last month.
Pakatan Harapan (PH), led by Anwar, won 82 seats. It fell short of a simple majority of 112 in the 222-seat Parliament.
This led to PH joining forces with Barisan Nasional (30 parliamentary seats), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (23), Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (six), Warisan (three), Muda (one), Parti Bangsa Malaysia (one), Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (one), and two independents, to form the government.
“A unity government should involve all the major political parties or coalitions, which this government does not have,” said Azeem, director of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies.
“PN is staying out of the government. It has 73 seats. That is not a minor opposition,” said Azeem.
“I would use the term ‘grand coalition’, instead of a unity government.”
Azeem said he found it disappointing that BN, which was widely rejected by voters, turned out to be the kingmaker this time around. This resulted in BN chairman and Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being named as one of the two deputy prime ministers. Anwar’s other deputy is Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof from GPS.
Azeem said those contesting in elections must be “clean”.
“Nothing personal against Ahmad Zahid, but he is facing 47 court charges. I believe anyone who contests in an election should not have any baggage,” said Azeem.
“If he is cleared of all charges, then, by all means, go ahead and run. It is the same for others, like Muda’s Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and DAP’s Lim Guan Eng.
“I also find it strange that those who lost in GE15 are now Cabinet ministers. How can someone rejected by the voters be considered (to be a part of the Cabinet)?”
Azeem was referring to Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (International Trade and Industry Minister), Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (Home Minister), and Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir (Foreign Minister).
In GE15, Zafrul lost to Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad in the Kuala Selangor parliamentary seat. Roslan Hashim turned the tables against Saifuddin Nasution in Kulim-Bandar Bahru, while Zambry lost in Lumut to Nordin Ahmad Ismail.
Separately, Azeem said allegations that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, had forced Anwar to name Ahmad Zahid as a deputy, was “nonsense”.
“The Agong suggested that the coalitions work together, but he cannot dictate who should be the Cabinet,” Azeem added.