It will be a herculean task for Anwar Ibrahim to unite these diverse forces, but I know many place their fervent hopes on him to bring the nation back on track.
The 15th General Election is over and a Unity Government has been formed.
The 10th Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been sworn in and the new Cabinet announced.
After weeks of trepidation, the new government can start work.
Prime Minister Anwar wasted no time in setting an example of a compassionate government by declining to accept the PM salary, to renovate his office, and to use a swanky official car, in solidarity with the rakyat in difficulty, he said.
On the very first day in office, he formed a committee to look into the rising cost of living and reiterated his pledge for good governance and put an end to corruption.
I do not think it is just for show. It is Anwar par excellence — the Anwar who was unjustly incarcerated; the Anwar who has been beaten, the Anwar who knows from the core of his being what it is to be denied freedom; the Anwar who is imbued with patience, compassion and humanity.
Despite all the scurrilous names thrown at him: untrustworthy, indecisive, a political chameleon with an Islamic agenda — perceptions not easily erased from the public mind — I have always believed that Anwar’s heart is in the right place, with the rakyat. This makes a big difference.
Anwar is a man of conviction, dedication and direction. He upholds and cherishes the multi-ethic, multi-religious and multi-cultural character of our nation.
He has declared that no needy person, whatever their ethnicity, will be shunted aside under his administration.
His moral compass is clear. I would say, quite probably due to his political conviction, dark forces kept him away from power for 25 years.
His political opponents deride him as “power crazy” and scoff at him as “the perpetual PM-in-waiting.”
They should hold up the mirror to themselves. Mere personal ambition cannot bring a man this far.
If fame and glory had been his motivation, he would have compromised his principles and ascended to the post of PM long ago.
He cannot but be inspired by a power greater than himself to fight the good fight. That power comes from the rakyat who want reforms and his compassion for them.
Malaysia has been, for decades, beleaguered by bad governance, corruption, cronyism, leakages, extravagant spending under mediocre and self-serving politicians.
The schisms and polarization thrown up by the recent General Elections are a real cause of concern.
Malaysia is in dire need of a true leader.
As if by a twist of irony, Anwar’s long years of waiting may be a blessing in disguise: he may be the right man befit to helm the ship and steer it away from dangerous waters.
Age may be a blessing too. At 75, he is a man in a hurry. With his experience, he will launch essential reforms and lay the foundation for his successors. As a devoted and committed Muslim leader, he has little time to do any bêtises.
It is meaningless to him. All he needs is the time to win the people’s trust and hearts.
His perseverance and tenacity have paid off. Judging from his performance thus far, I would say, he is a grounded and astute leader.
I cannot foretell the success of his government’s reforms. He is faced with a hung parliament and a Unity Government consisting of political rivals and mismatched bedfellows.
It would be a herculean task to unite these diverse forces – a topic we shall discuss in another article. But I know that many place their fervent hopes on Anwar to bring the nation back on track.
If he succeeds, he is indeed the man of our time!
(Charles Chia is Current Issue Commentator.)