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Malaysia PM Anwar’s government will last full term, says minister

BLOOMBERG – Malaysia’s ruling coalition is “increasingly confident” it can last its full five-year term after the Malaysian government led by its Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim survived the country’s fragmented political landscape for nearly a year, a senior minister said.

Allies overcoming “suspicion” of each other’s intentions is what makes Transport Minister Anthony Loke optimistic about the stability of the coalition made up of erstwhile political rivals.

“The fact that the government has survived almost a year is an achievement by itself,” Loke said in an interview. “You have to do a lot of firefighting.” Datuk Seri Anwar had to cobble together a pact between his Pakatan Harapan coalition and the former ruling Barisan Nasional coalition – both rivals for decades – to form the government after last November’s elections threw up a hung Parliament.

Loke, however, did not want to jump to conclusions about the future of the political grouping beyond its current term in office ending 2027.

“If you can run through your full-term government with good results, then you have a future. So I want to take it step by step,” he said. Loke is the secretary-general of Democratic Action Party, the outfit with the most parliamentary seats in the government.

Anwar is Malaysia’s fourth prime minister in as many years, with all three of his immediate predecessors lasting less than two years on the job – while being rocked by defections and slim majorities.

Anwar commands the support of at least two-thirds of Malaysian lawmakers – albeit via a testy alliance with long-time rivals and regional parties from Sarawak and Sabah. The political uncertainty has unnerved investors, partly contributing to the ringgit’s slide to its weakest level since the Asian financial crisis of 1998.

The ringgit has dropped 7.3 per cent to the dollar in 2023, adding to the challenges of a government torn between the need to tackle high costs of living and also pare back a hefty MYR81 billion subsidy bill to narrow its budget deficit.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim waves to the crowd after meeting with the Malaysian King at the Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last year. PHOTO: AFP
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