Post-GE roundup: On building cabinets, making friends and causing trouble

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It’s election season! To help you keep track of GE15 (and of your sanity!), BTL will be rounding up and distilling key election and post-election news, issues and insights, along with all the thrills, spills and tantrums, every week.

What maketh a cabinet?

Anwar Ibrahim’s 1st big task as supreme leader is to appoint his Putrajaya generals, and (allegedly, allegedly) we could be getting names real soon. But with deals to honour, pledges to keep, spending to cut and egos to manage, how will Anwar fare?

Elsewhere in our post-GE15 roundup, the new PH-BN union spilleth over in Tioman; runner-up PN’s on the attack; and crap! With rain, cometh the floods.

*Lost? Here’s our roundup of last week’s election news!

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FYI, in case you’re unfamiliar with Malaysia’s convoluted yet similar-sounding coalition names, here’s a crash course: PH = Pakatan Harapan; PN = Perikatan Nasional; BN = Barisan Nasional; GPS= Gabungan Parti Sarawak; GRS = Gabungan Rakyat Sabah

Anwar Ibrahim’s 1st week in office as PM10 saw him make some pretty popular moves, e.g. reject a new ride, order a relook at subsidies and procurement processes, and urge civil servants to support his mission to make Malaysia great again.

But with no working cabinet in place, it’s all been a solo effort.

Depending on the news site, the great unveiling of le premier’s cabinet was supposed to have happened/happen on Thurs/not Thurs/”by the end of the week“.

Now, though, certain source reports have claimeth we might only get a “partial announcement” today, with the man himself adding there may/mayn’t be a revelation in “2, 3 days“.

So what’s taking so long? The hold-up’s likely due to our inglorious leader having to weigh the demands of the various parties and peeps in his super large unity-esque gomen.

Fun fact: Although labelled by all and sundry as a unity gomen, it isn’t really, as it doesn’t comprise ALL major parties. But it is a coalition gomen of sorts.

As such, there’s been mucho speculation about who’ll get in and won’t, with the spotlight especially shining on BN-Umno’s big kahuna, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

According to folks in the know, Anwar’s likely to appoint 2 brand new deputy PMs (DPMs) — 1 from Sarawak-based GPS, 1 from BN. And a number of peeps (see here and here) think Uncle Zed’s the man for the BN DPM job.

Just 1 problem — Zahid’s currently on trial for corruption with another case on appeal. So, there’re those who think he (and other politicos with ongoing court matters) shouldn’t be afforded even a whiff of the cabinet pie.

Hence, why Anwar’s in a bit of a Catch-22 sitch. After all, leaving Zahid out in the cold could anger his one-time protégé and supporters into pulling BN support. Then again, handing Zed a seat by his side could maybe, possibly return to bite him in the arse with angry voters making a point in next year’s state polls.

Still, at least 1 analyst chap believes Nuar’s reign appears solid. Huzzah

BT-Dubs, the names of lotsa other alleged faves for cabinet slots have been bandied about (see here and here). But it’s anyone’s guess if the likes of Mohamad Hasan, Rafizi Ramli, Khairy Jamaluddin and Anwar’s daughter dearest Nurul Izzah will make the cut.

The big question is — will what's happening in Putrajaya and Pahang be the template for cooperation in the future, or will things come crashing down ala Umno's ouster of PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin last year or its Muafakat Nasional divorce?"

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Making friends


While it’s still early days yet, it’s actually been pretty amazing how quickly the 2 once-sworn enemies, PH and BN, have been able to tie friendship bracelets on each other; both at the federal level and in Perak and Pahang.

In fact, everything’s so warm and fuzzy right now that the new Putrajaya family of PH, BN and gang are even thinking up a name for their baby a.k.a. the brand new unity gomen.

Oh, and Amanah-PH’s candidate for the Tioman state election in Pahang pulled out of the race to support new BFF BN-Umno!

Now, we thought it’d be a cold day in July before the above happened. But like the coming together of the North and South poles, more shocking still was seeing BN and PH sharing a ceramah stage!

One thing, though, Amanah chief Mohamad “Mat” Sabu did claimeth that the rivals joined forces to combat dangerous ideologies in the wake of increasing attacks by PAS (see more on this below).

But wait just a minute, bro! Wasn’t the actual reason you ladies and gents decided to hold hands was neither PH nor BN having the numbers to command a majority in the Dewan Rakyat and Perak and Pahang assemblies?

In any case, the big question is — will what’s happening in Putrajaya and Pahang be the template for cooperation in the future, or will things come crashing down ala Umno’s ouster of PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin last year or its Muafakat Nasional divorce?

Analysts are divided as to the many ways this new-found lovey-dovey, sitting-in-a-tree partnership could play out, with Tioman being the litmus test.

Remember, there’re more state-level polls in the offing for 2023. And already, the PH-led Selangor gomen’s indicated it’s willing to discuss an election collabo with BN.

Whatever happens, though, even up north in Padang Serai, Kedah, where the sitch isn’t as Care Bear-friendly (both PH and BN by-election candidates had initially refused to make way for the other), there could maybe, possibly be a thawing of the ice.

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We gotta say, PN doesn’t give up easy. And that’s not a good thing!

If you remember, coalition chief Moo Yassin wasn’t willing to surrender his shot at Putrajaya, despite unceremoniously rejecting a royal suggestion to form a unity gomen with Anwar & Co, and insisting he himself had what it takes (namely and allegedly, statutory declarations) to be PM.

Anyways, a half-assed conceding of losses aside, this past week saw some rather bitter, unpleasant developments as Moo and his PN crew (mainly PAS) worked to discredit PM10’s administration and paint themselves as the true blue GE15 winners by playing up the 2 Rs — that’s Race & Religion, not Rest & Relaxation.

The strategy appears to be 4-pronged: 1) To paint perennial bogeyman DAP as Chinese-centric as well as anti-Islam and -Malay; 2) label the Anwar-led gomen as a “minority” gomen; 3) imply Bumiputeras were being crowded out of the new gomen (see here and here for examples of some excellent debunking and explainers by various media houses); and 4) link Anwar to Israel.

Note that PN’s yet to furnish even the tiniest bit of proof for any of its wild claims. And the result is folks have become so distrustful of everything ‘cos of this that the sight of some BN and PN leaders at a common venue led to rumours/fears of Sheraton Move 2.0 (Tropicana Move, anyone?)

This all, incidentally, comes on the back of a horrible, fear-mongering TikTok campaign by some very bad hats warning of a possible repeat of the bloody May 13, 1969 racial riots. Worse, at least 3 May 13 “warnings” have paid partnership labels.

The divisive racial politicking has, in fact, gotten so bad, some folks want tougher laws. Even the coppers and the Rulers have gotten involved, with Hadi Awang Baling MP Hassan Saad being investigated over the whole Anwar-Israel claim, and the Conference of Rulers calling on our “leaders” to stop using RR (again, race, religion) to incite folks.

Of course, our rulers didn’t name names, AND if you ask Hadi, he’ll insist PAS, at least, ain’t racist. After all, it has non-Malay friends support in PN’s Gerakan, maybe even in MCA and MIC. Ya-huh.

And here are more bits and bobs…

Finally, here’re a few more things from over the week to take note of as well as some latest developments:

Open sesame

Parliament will resume operations from Dec 19-20, and the 1st order of business will be the election of a new shiny Dewan Rakyat speaker.

If this vote doesn’t serve to test Anwar’s support in Parliament, there’s always Anwar’s confidence motion AND the tabling of a mini-budget to ensure civil servants get paid.

BT-Dubs, Budget 2023, which needs to be re-tabled (and will probably be revised), is expected to only be introduced in the House early next year.

With great power comes great (alleged) abuse

The Conference of Rulers has mooted that the PM shouldn’t play a part in the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), that committee that’s responsible for vetting and recommending who should be picked as judges.

The suggestion, which will ensure a more independent appointment process, has gotten mucho backing, including from the Malaysian Bar.

Incidentally and separately, the new gomen will soon have to look at delivering on other promised reforms e.g. unlinking the offices of attorney-general and public prosecutor.

Eggs-treme measures needed

We may have a shiny new premier but what we don’t have are eggs… or enough of them, at least. The gomen’s pinky promised it’s looking into the matter and warned against panic buying. Yet there appears to be no quick fix to the problem.

Elsewhere, in other news: 

  • It’s ridiculous, but Kampung Iboi in Baling, Kedah has been hit by flash floods for the 11th time this year! Kampung Iboi was ground zero of the July floods that saw 40 homes destroyed and 3 people killed. Note, MetMalaysia’s warned of continuous rain in many parts of the country. So it’s not just Baling that’s in trouble.

  • Terengganu’s approved new laws that’d reportedly penalise, among others, conceiving and giving birth out of wedlock. This is the same state with a high number of child marriages, many of which are reportedly greenlit due to unplanned teen pregnancies. BT-Dubs, the state is also sticking to its ban on unisex hair salons.

  • In Selangor, the state gomen is planning to spend on mental health treatment for 700 residents who need specialist intervention. It’s not a lot, but still a good start.

  • Ex-Perlis MB Abdul Hamid Pawanteh has died aged 78. He’d been reportedly suffering from kidney disease.

  • The courts have no jurisdiction to determine if Sarawak and Sabah can exit Malaysia. So sayeth the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in a ruling of a case concerning the legality of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement.

*BTL is part of the fact-checking alliance, JomCheck, made up of media houses, academia, and civil society.

Through JomCheck, Malaysians are able to submit requests to fact-check a claim by sending a WhatsApp message to the Whatsapp tipline 017-477 6659 (text only, no calls) or via this link.

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  • China’s lifted several restrictive Covid controls in the wake of violent protests in several major cities. For e.g., some districts and cities with rising cases were released from lockdown.

  • Spain has boosted security measures after a series of letter bombs were found, including 1 sent to the PM last week. The 6th and latest bomb was sent yesterday to the US embassy in Madrid.
  • As Russian fortunes in Ukraine deteriorate further, a new expanded law on “foreign agents” in Russia came into force. The laws signify intensifying crackdowns on free speech and opposition against supreme leader Vladimir Putin.

  • A 2-dose regimen of an experimental HIV vaccine 8 weeks apart has been found to produce immune responses in a clinical trial involving 36 recipients. All but 1 recipient produced antibodies. 

  • At the World Cup, meanwhile:

    • Belgium’s so-called “Golden Generation” flattered to deceive, getting booted outta the competition at the group stage after a goalless draw with Croatia, which goes through to the last 16 in 2nd place behind surprise package Morocco, which beat Canada 2-1.

    • But the day belonged to Japan, which repeated their giant-killing feat against Germany by coming from behind to beat Spain 2-1 to top their group. Still, both Japan and Spain went through despite Germany beating Costa Rica 4-2 in the other group match, a game that, BT-Dubs, saw the 1st woman referee take charge. 

Finally! A newsletter that keeps it nice and short.

At Between the Lines, we summarise and contextualise the most important Malaysian news for you.

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