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Anwar’s first 100 days: from hope to concern

By Murray Hunter - posted Wednesday, 8 March 2023

The formation of the Anwar government

Pakatan Harapan had an unexpected win in last general election. Pakatan Harapan's percentage of the aggregate vote went down from 45 percent in 2018 to 38 percent in 2022. The 2022 general election result didn't allow any individual political block to form a government on their own.

Perikatan Nasional (PN) leader, Muhyiddin Yassin was given the first opportunity by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, or king to form a government. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, leader of the Barisan Nasional (BN) pulling out of the PN-BN coalition agreement at the last minute, left Muhyiddin Yassin in the lurch. The king then called on Anwar Ibrahim to form a unity government with BN, and later Gabunan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Gabunan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), and Warisan joining the fray. The vote of confidence for Anwar as prime minister appeared to have a two-thirds majority on the floor of the Dewan Rakyat.

Anwar finally succeeded in his long journey to the premiership. However, Anwar Ibrahim, or PMX as he is called, has a huge obligation to many people. The policies, actions and behaviour of Anwar's administration should be viewed from this perspective.



From the PN side of politics, Anwar is seen as taking the position of prime minister in a cloud of illegitimacy, due to the treachery of Zahid. PN believed they should have been the rightful government, because they had the biggest single block of seats in the new parliament.

In contrast, Pakatan's supporters were jubilant. UMNO was split into two factions, that has led to infighting and expulsions from the party by the Zahid led Supreme Council.

It took Anwar nine days to put a cabinet together. The final announcement on December 2 of the cabinet was delayed almost four hours, while final negotiations were undertaken. This was the first sign that that the cabinet was formed on agreements, IOUs, and trade-offs. Nevertheless, Anwar was able to place a number of loyalists within the cabinet, a decision that sacrificed competence, and experience to get the people he wanted.

Anwar had to project his legitimacy during the first 100 days. We have witnessed Anwar's trips abroad to meet with regional leaders, and his domestic visits to sultans and governors. This was done with public engagements around the country.

After 100 days, Anwar, except for the launch of his Malaysia Madani philosophy, has not personally outlined any visionary 'hard policies'. This he has primarily left to his respective ministers. Which could be an indication that Anwar is running his administration as a chairman of the board, rather than a hands on micro manager.

After the first 100 days, Anwar has created the ambiance of stability for his government. Within a sea of threats to his government, Anwar looks set with the potential to govern a full term. However, the coming six state election dur sometime after June will be a major challenge to his stability. If his government holds Penang, Selangor, and Negri Sembilan, this could be considered a victory for Anwar.


Economic management

To a great extent, political stability will depend upon the economy. The expected GDP growth this year is forecast at 4 percent. The official inflation rate is also around 4 percent, but much higher in the food category. Many are still financially suffering from the harsh Covid-19 restrictions over the last 3 years, where the incidence of poverty has increased dramatically.

The domestic demand bubble of 2022, where GDP grew by 7.8 percent is not reoccurring this year. Therefore, the economy will depend much more on exports once again. However, at this time the global economy is very fragile.

Anwar's recent budget hasn't addressed the issue of growing poverty. No welfare net was developed, as both the Pakatan and BN election manifestos pledged. Much of the budget continued to rely on handouts and subsidies.

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About the Author

Murray Hunter is an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis. He blogs at Murray Hunter.

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