PRISONER TO POLITICAL ALLEGIANCES
Yet, longevity issues continue to plague the Anwar administration, largely due to the adverse public perception stemming for the realities of coalition politics.
Mr Anwar, 75, is now finding himself a prisoner to his current political allegiances, ties he was left with little choice but to accept in order to secure the premiership.
The chief annoyance for many PH supporters is over how Mr Anwar is being forced to accept compromises that have strayed from pre-election pledges after accepting UMNO as a partner in the coalition and appointing its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is currently battling corruption charges in the courts, as one of his deputies in government.
UMNO politicians occupy high-profile portfolios in Mr Anwar’s Cabinet, including top leadership spots in the Defence and the powerful Rural and Regional Development Ministry, positions that in turn have allowed the party’s top brass to reward their supporters with appointment to government agencies, a long-established practice of political favouritism that the PH coalition had pledged to end if it came to power.
There is also unease that the reform agenda Mr Anwar promised has been moving slowly. His reluctance to bring reform in the civil service and regulatory agencies with fresh appointment are also delivering mixed signals.
For example, Mr Anwar’s recent decision to retain the chief commissioner of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Azam Baki, for another year has stirred consternation within his own coalition and non-governmental organisation.
The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) chided Mr Anwar over the move to extend Mr Azam’s contract for another year after he had reached his mandatory retirement age early this month. Mr Azam’s position had come under a cloud last year over questions in his ownership of shares in private companies.
“The extension is not a good step, when in fact it’s a spoke in the wheel for Anwar’s crusade against corruption,” C4 president Cynthia Gabriel was cited as saying in local media.
Mr Anwar has defended his position, arguing that he wanted to break the convention that a change of guard in an agency was necessary when a new premier is appointed.