Reality bites: Malaysian PM Anwar’s first 100 days in office

It’s been 100 days since Anwar Ibrahim took office as Malaysia’s prime minister. PHOTO: ANWAR IBRAHIM/FACEBOOK

It’s been 100 days since Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took office as Malaysia’s prime minister, with promises to revive the economy, mend political rifts and fight graft. His unity government, formed by combining his Pakatan Harapan coalition with former rival Umno and other parties, enjoys a two-thirds majority in Parliament but reality has started to bite.

Some decisions have taken the shine off the new administration, including the appointment of Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi, who faces dozens of corruption charges.

Has the unity government lived up to voter expectations? And will the upcoming state polls threaten its staying power? Our correspondents report. 

Survival and stability trump election pledges in early days of Malaysia’s unity government


Political survival has been a key theme of Malaysia’s new unity government, with pre-election pledges taking a back seat to ensure that the alliance of once-bitter rivals and strange bedfellows remains stable and in power.

After last November’s general election resulted in Malaysia’s first-ever hung Parliament, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim joined hands with nemeses such as Umno and East Malaysian parties who previously swore they would not work with his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

In stark contrast to their conduct in the run-up to the polls, member parties of the so-called unity government have not just silenced their criticism of one another, they appear to have also temporarily set aside key principles on which they campaigned so as not to rock the boat. Compromise and flexibility have been the order of the day, to the point of party leaders and members performing political gymnastics to justify their decisions.


Anwar grapples with transforming economy, fighting inflation as state elections loom


Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s efforts to transform Malaysia’s economy, generate employment opportunities and address mounting costs of living will have to gain more momentum to ensure that his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition retains power in its stronghold states in the upcoming polls.

The state elections, which will be held by August, will not affect the two-thirds majority Datuk Seri Anwar’s government has at the federal level.

But any major loss of seats or votes in the three PH states of Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan would be a blow to the Prime Minister’s efforts to boost investor confidence and strengthen cooperation among his political allies, said Mr Halmie Azrie Abdul Halim, a senior analyst at Vriens & Partners Malaysia, a government regulatory affairs and political risk consultancy firm.


Reform icon Anwar faces criticism as he comes up against realpolitik


For decades, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has adopted the mantle of Malaysia’s reformist opposition leader. 

But as Prime Minister, he is now facing criticism for decisions that have gone against principles that he and his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had long stood for, as their political ideals clash with realpolitik.

Political observers note that Mr Anwar has been in office for only 100 days, and reforming the government will take time. Yet some of his high standards appear to have slipped.


Even with Umno alliance, Pakatan Harapan battles to win Malay votes in crucial state polls


Despite counting Malay nationalist party Umno as a new electoral partner, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) is set to face an uphill task of swinging votes of the Malay majority in their favour, as they head to the crucial six state elections that will be held later this year.

Just as the Premier completes 100 days in power while leading a first-of-its-kind unity government, there are signs that holding a two-thirds majority in Parliament and having several more electoral partners have done little to stem the tide of Malay support for the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, as seen in the 2022 national polls.

Analysts say that PN remains the favourite to retain three states where it is the incumbent state government, while PH is at risk of losing ground in three states that it currently leads.


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