PETALING JAYA: Naming Barisan Nasional chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as a Cabinet member would help stabilise Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government, according to an analyst.
Oh Ei Sun of Singapore’s Institute of International Affairs said this was assuming Zahid would retain his Umno presidency at the next party polls, which must be held not later than six months after the recent general election.
Oh said MPs from Umno would be more likely to fall in line with Zahid’s wishes if he were to remain president of the party.
“But if he loses that position, his successor may or may not be supportive of Anwar. And if he is not, then Umno could leave the government,” he told FMT.
He said PH supporters and civic groups opposing Zahid’s appointment should be asked whether they would prefer a PAS-dominated government instead.
Asked what he thought would happen if Zahid, as a Cabinet member, were to be found guilty of the criminal breach of trust charges he was facing, Oh said Anwar could then ask him to resign.
On whether BN and Umno No 2 Mohamad Hasan might be able to do a better job than Zahid, he said the Rembau MP was “perhaps not as commanding of Umno’s overall position as Zahid is”.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania told FMT he believed that Mohamad, although he could do a minister’s job, his appointment was ultimately subject to Zahid’s approval.
Commenting on the possibility of Anwar damaging his reputation for appointing someone facing charges in court, Chin said: “If Zahid is appointed minister and then the court finds him not guilty, then everyone can turn around and say, ‘See? We didn’t make a mistake in appointing him’.
“But if the court finds him guilty of corruption, you can also spin it around and say, ‘We gave everybody a chance and he is found guilty because we did not interfere in the court process’.
“So, as you can see, the spinning works both ways. That is the problem with Malaysian politics. There is too much spin and not much reality.”
However, he warned that Zahid’s appointment would draw negative response from the international community which, he said, was keenly watching the country’s political developments.
The two analysts were commenting on former PKR vice-president Tian Chua’s view that appointing Zahid as a Cabinet member would stabilise the government.
Yesterday, Tian Chua argued that Zahid should be given a ministerial post since he was instrumental in the formation of the unity government, which saw BN agreeing to work with PH. Other coalitions and parties then followed suit.