Anwar Ibrahim clears his first test as PM as a self imposed vote of confidence on his government passes. This, despite insinuations by Hamzah Zainuddin, the leader of the PN opposition of homosexuality by way of mentioning a scurrilous headline in the Italian Nova News.
I have confidence in confidence alone. Besides which you see I have confidence in MOA!
Anwar Ibrahim faces a vote of confidence in the two-day sitting of parliament that began today. He has done his best to shore up support from his Unity Government partners using both diplomacy and coercion via a Memorandum of Agreement that empowers coalition parties to unseat members of parliament who do not tow the line. He certainly seems to have done everything in his power to ensure that he can have confidence in the confidence vote!
Dapatocracy: A form of government wherein politicians are out for what they can get (dapat) for themselves. It is notable that the parties in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, including the Democratic Action Party (DAP), have unconditionally backed their Prime Ministerial candidate, Anwar Ibrahim, in forming his Unity Government post GE15. When the cabinet line-up was announced, DAP only got 4 out of 28 positions. This is a sacrifice from the perspective of a party which won the largest quotient of Anwar’s 148 seat majority. They won a whopping 40 seats and, as such, can be said to be making a noble sacrifice. Indeed, it can be said that the DAP is not part of the Malaysian DAPatocracy. But what will become of this traditionally Chinese dominated multiethnic party, given the likely reactions of its base to the equally likely machinations of PH’s new fellows (UMNO, GPS, GRS) remains to be seen.
Sivakumar Varatharaju Naidu is the Minister of Human Resources and the only Indian in Anwar Ibrahim’s cabinet. Gone are the glory days of the Pakatan Harapan government that followed GE 14 when there were 4 Indian ministers in a cabinet of 25 ministerial portfolios. Waytha Moorthy Ponnusamy was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for National Unity and Social Well-being, Xavier Jayakumar Arulanandam was Minister of Water, Land, and Natural Resources, Kulasegaran Murugeson was Minister of Human Resources and Gobind Singh Deo was Minister of Communication and Multimedia. Today, in Anwar’s Unity Government there is only 1 Indian minister from a cabinet of 28 portfolios. Indeed, the ratio has gone down dramatically, and there is a lot of discussion in the media, about the implications for the place of Malaysian Indians in the political paradigm of Malaysia.
Malaysia is a nation founded in the wake of colonial immigration and postcolonial communalism. Race and religion are determinants of status and rights in our constitution and the majority of the political parties in our constitutional democracy are defined in terms of ethnic and religious interests. As East Malaysian parties figure more prominently in the political leadership of our nation (as they should in the cause of strengthening the Federation) the space for Indians in the leadership of the nation will naturally diminish in time.
In any event, while some Indians have risen to power based on communalist politics, Samy Vellu being the exemplar, this order has not really served the Indian community very well in the post Independent period. So, while I acknowledge the communal nature of the Indian Malaysian stake in the nation, I believe the time has come to pursue our community interests less directly, by perpetuating general principles of justice and citizenship for all. As the power dynamic shifts in Malaysian politics, Indians need to assert their needs and rights as citizens, rather than as a members of a community. They need to entrench themselves within the multiethnic political parties and contribute to the deepening of trans-communal ethos that may be emerging, in the Malaysian political landscape, albeit, with difficulty.
Our community is clearly on the way to losing its 3rd place in the triumvirate of Malaysian races – Malay/Chinese/XXX, we need to be at the forefront of the effort to transcend communalism in Malaysian life. This might be a losing battle in the face of the rising wave of Malay ethnoreligious sentiments, but I believe it is still the only way forward, and the best chance for Indians to have a say in a future Malaysia. We should stop worrying about the number of Indians in the Cabinet, and focus on deepening our role and influence at the back end of governance. Indian Malaysians have everything to gain from thinking and acting as Malaysians per se, and much to lose by being entrenched in the Indianness of our national identity. I believe that Indians can best serve our community by striving to raise the living conditions and opportunities for all Malaysians who have been left behind in the post-independence period.
Siapa Parasit? In Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 Academy Award-winning film Parasite, members of a poor family, are employed by a wealthy homeowning family. They infiltrate the household and attempt take over their wealth resources and lives. Post Malaysia’s GE15 Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) has accused the Democratic Action Party (DAP) of being a parasite riding on a Malay unity government that will in the end destroy the “weak” host. The Chinese-dominated multiethnic DAP was the 2nd most successful party in GE15 with 40 seats and will be part of the Unity Governmenmt under Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim. PAS was the party that won the most seats, numbering 47 and will be part of the opposition.
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