Last weekend’s unity government convention was a rousing show of camaraderie among former sworn enemies who declared all is forgiven and are friends now and that this forced alliance was out of loyalty to the king.
One by one, leaders talked about the need to be friends and completely glossed over the fact that the leaders of the leading parties in the unity government are facing charges in court and that this government does not have the support of the majority of the Malays who are the largest community in the country.
Quite apparently, it was also a pre-election campaign event aimed at sending the message that the incumbent unity government is truly united, in the hope that the show of unity will appeal to the people, especially the Malays, in order to get their votes.
Anwar’s singling out of Umno, as a party together with Gabungan Parti Sarawak and the Sabah parties which joined the unity government, was a strong endorsement of the party and its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi although the latter is facing 47 corruption charges in court.
By publicly endorsing Zahid who is also a deputy prime minister, Anwar has legitimised the former’s role in the unity government. The strategy, perhaps, is that with Umno in government, it would help the party deliver the Malay vote to Pakatan Harapan — the leading coalition in the unity government — in the coming state elections.
Whatever the political motive, the unity government convention, attended by thousands, was a success in projecting a picture of stability and unity. Whether that picture matches the reality on the ground is a question mark, one which will be answered soon in the coming state elections in Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
The most important question now is if the people are buying into this narrative Anwar is spinning through the huge PR campaign involving the unity convention and the Hari Raya open houses which have attracted thousands and thousands of people or whether the people can see through the charade?
What is seen isn’t what really is. It will be interesting to see if, in the state elections, the people’s votes reflect what meets the eye or that they saw right through it.