The DPM dilemma

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has expressed hopes that the unity government will finish its full term. That’s left to be seen.

Anwar and his supporters want to project a narrative that the threat to the unity government originates externally. That may be true if Anwar’s leadership does not provide ammunition for detractors to seek an alternative.

Some of the decisions Anwar has made have far-reaching repercussions and they need to be examined to see if they put the nation and its institutions at risk. If they have, then MPs are justified and should seek a change of administration or a change of prime minister. If MPs don’t, they will not be living up to the expectations of the voters.

Consider the current state of the national leadership. The nation is now poised to have a prime minister who is facing 47 corruption charges in court involving Yayasan Akalbudi. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing these charges, is one of the two current deputy prime ministers. He is more senior in terms of rank and experience than the other DPM, Fadillah Yusof, who is from Gabungan Parti Sarawak(GPS).

Should anything happen to Anwar or he voluntarily resigns, who will take over? Zahid? Did the people vote for this? Did he get the mandate of the people or was this a decision that Anwar for his own reasons has imposed on the nation? Is this not risking the reputation of the nation and good governance that this nation is aspiring for?

If the unity government has set in place a succession plan in which Zahid is not the candidate to take over the premiership mid-term, the people need to know about it. But, if the candidate is Zahid, it is not the will of the people and Anwar’s decision threatens our democratic system of government.

No one should play God and believe fate will be in his or her favour. He or she should understand human limitations and make provisions for them. If anything happens to Anwar now, the nation would be stuck with an undesirable and unwanted prime minister — thanks to Anwar.

The people need to understand the gravity of the situation that Anwar has put the nation in.

Anwar has justified his decision by arguing that one is innocent until proven guilty. If so, march into court in the confidence that one is innocent and one has the evidence to prove it.

If a defendant is finding ways to escape conviction — as Zahid has attempted by sending a letter of representation to the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) requesting that the AGC drop the 47 charges against him in the Yayasan Akalbudi case — it would only raise public suspicion that he doesn’t think he is innocent.

In addition, Zahid’s party, Umno, has sent a request to the king for a royal pardon for its adviser, Najib Razak, who is in jail for his involvement in the SRC International case. The king should not forward the request to the Pardons Board of which he is chairman because, under the constitution, a political party can’t seek a pardon for any of its convicted members. That’s not the correct procedure. Yet, Zahid sidestepped the correct procedure to get what he wants. And Anwar kept his silence.

How could Anwar allow his DPM to disrespect the constitution and get away with it? It is dangerous to have such a politician in the Cabinet as he or she may use his or her influence and position to get what he/she wants and it may not be what the people want.

Zahid and others in Umno who are facing criminal charges in court have often justified their actions by claiming that their cases are politically motivated. That has now become a cliche. In politics, everything is politically motivated! The question to ask isn’t whether such cases are politically motivated but whether they are true or correct, and allow the courts to prove it so or otherwise.

Anwar’s silence perhaps is a demonstration of his own sense of ethics. He himself is facing a sodomy case in court and, therefore, is in no position to judge Zahid and other Umno members facing criminal charges in court or dismiss them. If he did, he would have to first dismiss himself, i.e. resign!

At the same time, one can not help but observe that should Zahid succeed in getting the AGC to drop the 47 charges against him, a precedent would be set and others facing criminal charges in court can do the same.

That would include Anwar and other politicians in his unity government who are facing criminal charges in court. It will also result in a long line of criminals seeking to drop charges against them.

That would be nothing but a mockery of our justice system. It is reckless irresponsibility to put the nation at risk by having such a candidate as a DPM who could become PM who mocks the AGC and the judiciary while the PM stands by silently.

This is the reason why politicians facing court charges should not be allowed to hold public office.

The people are witnessing first-hand how a compromised candidate will use position and influence to save himself or herself and set a precedent that should not have been set with no one stopping it.

It is, therefore, not surprising that there are efforts to change the current administration or, at least, the current PM.

Whether or not the PM’s position is at risk, Anwar has to act swiftly to choose the right candidate, after consultations with the partners in his unity government, to be the designated DPM who will take over from him as PM should it become necessary in the mid-term.

If he fails to correct the situation he has put the nation in, then, he gives MPs the right reasons to move against him. He would be inviting it.


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