KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today expressed confidence that many Malays support his administration, saying they care more about good policies than the racial composition of a government as he scoffed at PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s claims.
Criticism of the so-called unity government has predictably taken a racial slant as Hadi and other PAS leaders ramp up their attack ahead of polls in six states likely to be held in July or early August, ostensibly in their bid to shore up Malay support.
Hadi’s race rhetoric has become especially intense. Most recently, the PAS president said the unity government is not fit to lead because it is "dominated” by minorities, a claim that has been debunked several times.
"What really matters is not whether (this government) is Malay-majority, but good policies,” Anwar told reporters when asked to respond to Hadi’s latest salvo.
"Tell me where is the principle (that) we have sidelined Islam? How are the Malays betrayed? Or (how have) we stolen Malay land, stolen shares, stolen government projects? This is what we should be judged for. Don’t resort to tired and old narratives.”
Political analysts believe Perikatan Nasional could mount a serious challenge in states like Selangor and even Penang, where Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition has governed since 2008.
Led by PAS, the coalition staged a surprise showing at the 15th general election last year, sweeping dozens of federal seats in the rice belt states that were once considered Umno strongholds.
PN bagged over 70 parliamentary seats in the November polls, making it the second largest political bloc in the Lower House, causing a hung parliament. Anwar’s PH was only able to form the government by striking a deal with arch rivals Umno.
Some PN leaders believe the coalition has a shot at snatching Selangor if it could win just over half of the state’s Malay support, which they believe is possible as Malays become wary of PH’s alliance with corruption-tainted Umno.