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Anwar's 'unity coalition government' is beginning is beginning to crumble

By Murray Hunter - posted Friday, 3 November 2023

Anwar's Madani government has fallen into self-destruct mode. Over the last eleven months, the realties of Anwar and his government's performance has become very evident, where even the staunchest supporters are becoming more disappointed.

The hopes of promised reforms have been replaced with disillusionment.

The stability of the Madani government is not as sound as it appears on paper. Technically, Anwar's government has a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat. However, the reality would be very different, if any contentious legislation was put to the vote.


Pakatan Harapan (PH) gained 82 seats in the last general election in the federal parliament. This was 30 seats short of a majority. With the support of Barisan Nasional, PH-BN had 112 seats, and could form a government. When Sarawak's GPS joined the coalition, this added another 23 seats and a comfortable working majority. With more support from Sabah based parties, the coalition became known as the 'unity government'. The current Agong lent his support to this coalition, which swayed the Borneo parties in.

Cracks in the 'unity government'

However, the events of the last week have publicly exposed some internal cracks within the 'unity government'.

The Sarawak government bulked at two decisions made by Anwar's administration. The first was the use of Bahasa Malaysia as the language of government, and the second was the proclamation of a Palestine Solidarity Week to be held in schools across the country.

These were rejected by the Sarawak State Government, which is the first time the state government had publicly rejected federal edicts.

This indicates that Anwar didn't consult with the Sarawak State Government beforehand, and was insensitive to the thoughts and ideas of a major coalition partner. This also shows that GPS with its 23 seats in the Dewan Rakyat may not give rock solid support to the Anwar administration upon issues it doesn't agree with.


Secondly, the DAP leader Anthony Loke made a public statement over the Palestine Solidarity Week issue. Loke admitted this was discussed in cabinet and appears to have broken cabinet solidarity. This is a major rebuke to the prime minister in a Westminster system, which would normally see the resignation of those who break cabinet solidarity.

In addition, 12 state and federal MPs in Anwar's own Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) also spoke out against the Palestinian Solidarity Week. This is reflective upon a bigger dissatisfaction within the party over the direction Anwar is taking the government.

Anwar has made a cardinal mistake in intra-coalition politics – NEVER MAKE DECISIONS COALITION PARTNERS WILL NOT AGREE WITH. This will lead to future disputes in public as a precedent has been set.

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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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