PN's shadow cabinet vital for political check and balance - Experts

12 Feb 2024 08:30am

SHAH ALAM - Perikatan Nasional's (PN) newly announced shadow cabinet has sparked a war of words, with supporters praising it as a vital step towards holding the government accountable, while analysts raise concerns about its effectiveness and ulterior motives.

Adding to the skepticism, the year-long delay in forming this cabinet fuelled questions about PN's readiness to act as a credible opposition force.

O2 head researcher Anis Anwar said PN's shadow cabinet played a crucial role in maintaining a check and balance within Malaysia's political landscape.

"The committee portfolios, with seasoned members like Tanah Merah MP Datuk Seri Ikmal Hisham handling defence, Masjid Tanah MP Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin and Indera Mahkota MP Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah overseeing education, demonstrate a dedication to scrutinise government actions effectively," he said.

However, Anis said the prolonged duration taken to establish this shadow cabinet, over a year, reflected a delay in PN's positioning as a credible opposition.

"The establishment of the shadow cabinet serves a dual purpose. Firstly, to highlight weaknesses in the current government and secondly, to place PN as a viable alternative to Pakatan Harapan, showcasing their readiness to govern.

"Despite PN's ongoing ambitions to seize government power, either through elections or other means, their ability to do so credibly hinges on their performance and moral standing," he said.

Regarding PN's decision not to announce a shadow Prime Minister, Anis provided multiple perspectives.

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"The emphasis should be more on ministerial portfolios than on the Prime Minister position itself," Anis said highlighting the influence of ministerial roles in making impactful decisions.

Anis also delved into the strategic political considerations and internal dynamics within PN, particularly regarding Pas' strengthened position.

"Internal dynamics within PN, specifically regarding Pas' strengthened position, are also a significant factor.

"The current standing of Pas within the coalition appears stronger and this shift in power dynamics could influence strategic decisions, including the nomination of a shadow Prime Minister.

"This internal power balance, especially the relative strength of Pas compared to Bersatu, is a critical consideration in PN's approach to presenting a united front and determining leadership roles within the coalition," he said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) political analyst Dr Abdul Aziz Azizam emphasised the importance of the opposition's role in providing checks and alternative views.

However, Aziz raised concerns about PN's composition, noting the monopolisation of the shadow cabinet by Bersatu.

"We can see that the main composition in PN is monopolised by Bersatu, even though the party has issues with MPs defecting and so on.

"This generally makes it a bit difficult for the people to put trust in the integrity that will be achieved by this shadow cabinet," Aziz said.

Commenting further, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Institute of Ethnic Studies deputy director Professor Dr Kartini Aboo Talib @ Khalid said PN can act better to scrutinise the government without being the shadow.

"PN may think they are better than the unity government, but it is now in question for being incapable of managing Malaysia.

"Surendran declared his withdrawal as a member of PKR; DAP's Nga Kor Ming proposed to nominate some Chinese new villages as a Unesco World Heritage site which is ridiculous and crosses the line. Clearly, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is out of power and weak.

"PN can act better to scrutinise the government without being the shadow. To many people, the shadow is shallow and lame," he said.

PN yesterday announced its 'shadow cabinet' line-up but stopped short of appointing a 'shadow' Prime Minister.

Its secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the question of PN's pick for Prime Minister should not arise since Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was chairman of the coalition.

"The time will come when you know who is going to be our Prime Minister (candidate)," he was reported saying.