Be the PM for all Malaysians

On this 64th Independence anniversary let’s remind ourselves once again to give true meaning to our Merdeka.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob became Malaysia’s 13th deputy prime minister on July 7, 2021.

Sixteen months earlier, on March 9, 2020, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced his Pakatan Nasional-led Cabinet without the DPM’s post being filled, but supplemented by four senior ministers, instead. Following coalition protocol, Ismail Sabri was listed second in the pecking order.

Therefore, Ismail Sabri’s elevation as DPM was quite a stunner. It was neither planned by his party, nor through any personal gamesmanship. Ismail Sabri admitted that he had asked permission from his party president, before accepting. That it was an all-out tactical move by Muhyiddin, who was under serious siege by Umno, was clear to all.

And in less than one-and-a-half months, this incidental DPM was already in serious contention to be the 9th prime minister!

Accidental PM

Within seven weeks, this incidental DPM became the accidental PM!

I think, in this most troublesome of times, Ismail Sabri has every chance to come through, not only unscathed, but would be seen as performing rather well. Firstly, he didn’t trample on anyone for this coveted post, although to one or two chaps, he jumped the queue. Secondly, there are quite a few Covid-19 trial and error moves from his predecessor that he could use as guidelines.

And finally, after two administration changes, and with about 20 months to go before GE15, it is rather inconceivable that Pakatan Harapan, or the PN assortment, would even dare think of a third administration change!

The PN-plus 114 MPs actually sought out a consensus candidate. And our perennial candidate, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, confirmed that PH would back Ismail Sabri when the confidence vote is held, and would not complicate, or destabilise the government. Odd as it may seem, but the PH’s commitment effectively sealed the deal. The door is shut even to any recalcitrant group amongst the PN motley crew.

Ismail Sabri would get to do his job with the least distractions. His Cabinet colleagues would perform with gusto as the full focus of all stakeholders would be shifted to GE15.

It is safe to assume he would work on some of the institutional reform items put forward by Muhyiddin earlier, as a last-gasp survival package. Umno would be quite amenable this time, as the state instruments designed by them are not in their natural arsenals to use anymore. In fact, their support for good governance becomes a defence manoeuvre.

We want to believe that Ismail Sabri’s invitation to work as the ‘Malaysian Family’ is a good inside look on how he plans to run his show.

Ismail Sabri’s new worldview

By all accounts, Ismail Sabri is like any other Malaysian. We have read of his acts of friendliness and kindness, as well as his absence of pomposity.

But he had presented an entirely different persona during political/election hustings, and as an Umno minister. He did carry his ‘Malay champion’ direction to quite unhealthy levels. The ‘Low Yat 2’ for Malay traders sticks to mind on how opportunistic and silly a Cabinet minister could be. The immediate reaction and subsequent solution that he promulgated was as if he had taken leave of his senses.

The continued propagation of Chinese Malaysians as the bogeyman is just wrong, however one chooses to see it. All the real instruments of power have been in the hands of Malay Malaysians, and to reverse any advantages embedded in the Federal Constitution, requires serious complicity from many Malay and Bumiputera parliamentarians! Furthermore, economic initiatives were never designed to be a “zero sum game”. No one needs to lose, for another to gain.

As PM9, Ismail Sabri has been given this truly marvellous opportunity to think and act ‘Malaysian’, which I believe, at heart, he must be.

Shakespeare once said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”. Your clarion call is thrust upon you, so answer it! Be the prime minister for all Malaysians!

Ethics and morality

Very recently, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to his party’s wish that he be the vice-president candidate for the June 2022 presidential election (just after he steps down as president).

Rather strange, isn’t it?

The Philippine Constitution allows only for a single six-year term presidency but is silent on Duterte’s proposed move. This means, if his candidacy is accepted and he wins, and if the president is incapacitated or resigns, Duterte becomes the president once again.

A knowledgeable Filipino friend agreed that my posturing of the Duterte move can be legally acted on, but stressed that ethics and morality should come into play. Well, at home, our PM9 could take heed and work on some overdue reforms in his party so that in GE15, whichever party/coalition wins, our nation can’t lose.

Postscript

The recent flurry of activity directly involving the monarchy is excruciatingly improper. The institution represents everything noble in our nation and mustn’t be subjected to public discussions and scrutiny outside their realm of duties and responsibilities. And to be a referee of sorts is quite preposterous.

Our tripartite system covers our democratic model and governance issues quite adequately. But the system only works as well as the personages appointed to work it!

Ismail Sabri, at 61, is not the youngest to be prime minister, but is the first one to be born after Merdeka. Looking at the ages of the current protagonists, he resembles the next generation.

Lead the way, dear PM9. We have to count on you!

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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