Zahid as DPM to minimise the risk of instability but expect major backlash
SHAH ALAM - Will Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman and Umno President Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi be appointed Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) under the Pakatan Harapan unity government?
Despite being the face of the Court Clusters and continuous push from his very own party to step down, word of Zahid allegedly regaining his former position prior to the 14th General Election (GE14) has been solidified across social media platforms and forwarded WhatsApp messages.
“Zahid” and “Zahid DPM” have been trending on Twitter for the past few days and despite many being upset with the possible outcome, others gave in, saying that something’s got to give for the deal of support.
Some critics have even dubbed this appointment as an important move to ensure the stability of the government is upheld.
One common phrase pushed around among these observers: “He is the president of Umno and leads the BN bloc thus should be in government, if not there will be cases of people withdrawing their support”.
However, one Umno division leader told Sinar Daily this perception of him becoming DPM was likely engineered by his camp as the group still faced the possibility of jail time.
“If Anwar appoints Zahid as DPM surely it will also descend into the Umno polls that needs to be held very soon.
“The prospect of him becoming DPM is a good motivation for the divisions to support him and might be hard for others to challenge him for the presidency post.
“However, we at the grassroots are pretty sure three-quarters of the Umno members understand that Zahid is the cause of BN’s defeat in GE15,” he said.
Political analyst Amir Fareed Rahim of public affairs and political risk consultancy KRA Group said the Prime Minister has a tough decision to make with regards to the appointment of the Umno President into the cabinet.
Anwar, he said, was caught between a rock and a hard place.
“On one hand he needs to ensure the stability of government, and on the other he has to battle perception issue that comes with appointing Zahid due to his ongoing court cases,” he said.
Amir said the fact that the cabinet appointments have yet to be finalised highlights the complexity of the new-alignment in Putrajaya.
However, he said the need to appoint Zahid would be able to minimise the risk of instability in the coalition government, especially in its formative period.
“The past two governments lacked stability when the Umno chief was outside the Cabinet with perceived tension even when the Prime Minister was from Umno.
“Therefore, the move to appoint Zahid in a senior position in cabinet is a necessity for Anwar at this point in time, given the new political realities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Syaza Shukri of International Islamic University Malaysia, slammed such ideas stating that nobody was preaching for this.
She said the balance of power could be achieved with any DPM from Umno thus it does not have to be Zahid specifically.
This move, she said, was against the principles championed by PH during and before the campaign period.
“Most likely it is just as a way to reward him for supporting the PM and to ensure continued support by Umno and nothing else.
“But Zahid should not be in Cabinet and I think everyone can understand why,” she said.
Syaza cautioned that if Zahid were to become DPM major backlash were to be expected, likely erupt on a huge scale across all segments of society.
She said Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters would be angry because part of the campaign was against the court cluster.
She added that it was also key to remember that a lot of Malays did not vote for BN this time around because of Zahid.
Some protest votes towards Perikatan Nasional (PN) were because of the people’s uneasiness with Zahid.
“In fact some BN supporters didn’t go out to vote at all in protest of Zahid’s leadership so if he returns to government as DPM many would likely be unhappy,” he added.