100 days of Pakatan govt: Winners and losers

100 days of Pakatan govt: Winners and losers
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference after chairing a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya May 30,2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — When Pakatan Harapan (PH) defied expectations to unseat ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) from a six-decade consecutive rule, the rival pacts were not the only winner-and-loser pair to emerge.

In the 100 days that followed, there were other winners (bagging a new office in Putrajaya to a new fat paycheck) and losers (forfeiting millions of ringgit in investments to receiving massive blows to their reputations).

Malay Mail lists down some of the less obvious gainers and losers right here:

Winners

1. Parti Amanah Negara and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia

Three years ago, Amanah were seen as throw-aways for being “too progressive” for their own good. Now, five of Amanah’s leaders are in the Cabinet, with president Mohamad Sabu controlling the respectable portfolio of defence himself.

PPBM had it even better. Despite being the youngest component of PH, its chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is now the prime minister, and its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin the powerful home minister.

First-time MPs Maszlee Malik and Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman were promoted straight to the Cabinet, while some, like women’s chief Rina Harun survived scrutiny as a minister by simply appearing to do nothing.

2. Pakatan allies

Years of either fighting against the BN juggernaut or quietly propping up the then Opposition over the years finally bore fruit for a number of PH hardcores; becoming members of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), private secretaries to ministers, and being in a myriad of committees, government-linked companies, bodies and agencies.

Tun Daim Zainuddin, who returned from self-imposed exile to back PPBM just prior to the polls, is now head of CEP and perhaps the most powerful person outside the government, bar Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Security forces veteran group National Patriots Association got its president appointed into the Institutional Reforms Committee after publicly siding with PH.

Libertarian Wan Saiful Wan Jan is now a special adviser and heads the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) despite losing the polls.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrives for the monthly assembly of the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya May 21, 2018. — Picture by Razak Ghazali
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrives for the monthly assembly of the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya May 21, 2018. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

3. Tan Sri Ali Hamsa and Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun

The chief secretary and inspector-general of police were instrumental in ensuring that the country did not succumb to chaos during the perilous 24 hours before Dr Mahathir was sworn in as the prime minister, amid suggestions that no party had a simple majority.

Ali showed his support for the polls results by announcing May 10 as a public holiday, and the next day directed public servants to be loyal to the new administration. Meanwhile, Fuzi pledged to keep the peace.

It is likely that the two kept their jobs as a result of this show of support. Less lucky was General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor, the Armed Forces chief who had similarly stood by PH during the tumultous times — he was replaced in June.

Datuk Lokman Noor Adam's 'popularity' got him elected into Umno’s Supreme Council, and fielded for the Sungai Kandis by-election. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Datuk Lokman Noor Adam's 'popularity' got him elected into Umno’s Supreme Council, and fielded for the Sungai Kandis by-election. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

4. Datuk Lokman Noor Adam

A political “jester” was needed to fill in the vacuum left by Datuk Seri Jamal Md Yunos who had fled to Indonesia. Enter former PKR strongman-turned-Umno propagandist Lokman and his government watchdog group Pemantau Malaysia Baru.

Throwing his support behind the embattled Najib Razak, and with incendiary remarks against Christians and DAP plus playing all the racial and religious cards, Lokman quickly made himself noticed.

His “popularity” got him elected into Umno’s Supreme Council, and fielded for the Sungai Kandis by-election. He lost, but claimed that it was a moral victory.

5. The media

Long-shackled and oppressed, the media bared its fangs in the wee hours of May 10 — quickly shifting its tone to an increasingly acerbic one towards the previous administration the moment it became clear the scales had finally tipped.

Now instead of a prime minister who reads out statements, his successor would take virtually any question, any time, any where. A boon for journalists for sure.

And the previously tight-lipped prime minister? Najib now releases press statements on a dazzlingly regular schedule, perhaps finally realising now the value of a free press.

Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Nisha Ayub attend a press conference in Putrajaya August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Nisha Ayub attend a press conference in Putrajaya August 10, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

Losers

1. Sexual minorities

They vote, they pay taxes, and they are as much a citizen as any of us. Yet, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community remains a political football; kicked around by an Opposition that refers to divine rule and a government that keeps scoring own goals.

From the dropping of an LGBT ministerial aide, the removal of two LGBT activists’ portraits at an exhibition, to debating transgenders’ use of toilets the community is repeatedly being failed by the politicians who are supposed to protect them, but are too afraid to do so.

2. PAS and the Islamist lobby

The Islamist party may have retained Kelantan and regained Terengganu, and they may yet shine in the next election, but its gamble to collude with Umno this time around seemed to have backfired.

With the formations of more coalitions like Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Bersatu Sabah, PAS’ own Gagasan Sejahtera may already have one foot in the grave, and its MPs need to think less provincially to avoid ending up merely discussing flight attendants’ uniforms and preaching fire and brimstone in Parliament.

3. Businesses

Foreign investors were indubitably spooked by not only a new boss who would rock their pricey boats, but a finance minister who told the world how bad Malaysia’s books really are. But Putrajaya has made it clear that it really does not care.

However, local businesses are also finding the transition hard, especially having to revert to the Sales and Services Tax (SST) just three years into the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. After all, they are the ones bearing the cost for changing systems and reprinting marketing materials.

But the real “bloodbath” was within the C-suites of government-linked companies (GLCs), where political appointees were either sacked or resigned, after it was made clear that their “singing days” were over.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is now left helming a rudderless party that increasingly wants to dissociate itself from its disgraced former leader Najib. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is now left helming a rudderless party that increasingly wants to dissociate itself from its disgraced former leader Najib. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

4. Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

What did Zahid really say to Dr Mahathir when the former called on the latter in June, roughly a month after PH took over Putrajaya? We may never know, but Zahid may count himself lucky that Umno is still alive, no matter how bloodied it got after the polls.

However, he is now left helming a rudderless party that increasingly wants to dissociate itself from its disgraced former leader Najib, a fractured coalition that only exists in name, and the leader of an Opposition united only in bitter defeat.

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