Thursday, May 16, 2013

Now Where is That Shadow Cabinet Again?

After ten days of crying foul and his hyper-active "nationwide protest tour" in the wake of GE13, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may be finally coming to realise that it is time to move on, and mend the fences inside his own PKR and across Pakatan.

If he wants to prove he is not a sore loser then he should calm down, take his place as Opposition leader and unveil a shadow cabinet.

This makes perfect sense for a number of reasons. Firstly, Anwar has long told the rakyat that he has a team capable of running Malaysia and as of today, it is only fair that voters get the chance to judge the calibre of that team against the actual line-up unveiled by the Prime Minister Wednesday.

Najib wisely included successful businessmen and corruption fighters in his team. But who are the Pakatan Rakyat's opposite numbers to Maybank chief Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar and Transparency International head Paul Low? It would be intriguing to find out.

The other important message that Pakatan's shadow cabinet would send out is that the Opposition, like the Government, knows it is time to move on. It lost GE13 fair and square and needs to tell the world it is looking ahead rather than wallowing in its "disgust" (as Anwar bluntly puts it) at the result.

A shadow cabinet, meeting weekly like the actual cabinet, would also fulfil its Westminster role of producing constructive opposition to the Government, making the Government accountable for its decisions and reminding us all that the parliament provides essential checks and balances. As it stands, there are no head-to-head battles over individual portfolios to look forward to.

Perhaps most importantly, a shadow cabinet will show us that PKR-DAP-PAS are finally able to work together. We know that the reason why Anwar didn't dole out the ministerial jobs before GE13 was because it would have triggered all-out war between the parties. So to prove that this is no longer the case, Anwar needs to match the big names to shadow portfolios.

This is exactly how it is done in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The fact that it is not done here makes us something of a parliamentary oddity.

Najib is using his cabinet line-up to signal his intent to drive through change in this coming parliamentary term that is vital for Malaysia's future. In that respect his team is as important as the manifesto it has promised to implement.

But through his inaction, Anwar is signalling that nothing has changed on his side of politics since GE13. For the sake of the rakyat, it's time for everyone to move on and that includes Anwar.

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