Anwar Ibrahim’s next challenge: Keeping his job

2 weeks ago 16

KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim finally clinched the country’s premiership after decades of waiting. Now, he must make sure that he keeps the job.

That won’t be easy in a country that’s now had four prime ministers in four years. Former finance chief Anwar is likely to control an unstable majority and his administration looks set to include his longtime nemesis, the graft-tainted Umno. That may prove an obstacle to policymaking and could easily bring his government down.

Mr Anwar, 75, will also have to steer an economy that’s on the most fragile of rebounds at a time of surging inflation and living costs. He will also face pressure from an opposition dominated by an increasingly popular Islamic party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

The elections have opened up “multiple religious and racial faultlines” across the political landscape, said Mr Tan Teng Boo, chief executive officer and managing director of Capital Dynamics Asset Management in Kuala Lumpur. Mr Anwar’s biggest task will be to “ensure that these faultlines don’t erupt”.

Here are some of the challenges that Mr Anwar and his government will confront in the months ahead: 

Power sharing 

The first test will be who gets what in Mr Anwar’s new government under a power-sharing formula. Mr Anwar will have to appease the majority Malays and Umno while keeping traditional coalition allies happy. That could see a bloated cabinet as he seeks to ensure that the different parties each have roles. 

“Malaysia’s new cabinet should not be too big like the previous cabinet,” said Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, an associate professor with the Academy of Malay Studies at Universiti Malaya. “Anwar needs an efficient and trusted cabinet.”

Pakatan Harapan (PH), Mr Anwar’s coalition, mentioned two deputy prime mi...

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