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Five days left before polling. Four coalitions fighting for your vote. Manifestos have been published; promises have been made. But in the end, what it really comes down to is which man to choose to be your next prime minister.  It is, after all, the prime minster who calls the shots, charts the nation’s course, determines who gets appointed to what position and sets the tone for the overall well-being of the nation.

And when it comes to prime minister, what are our choices? There’s Zahid Hamidi (hiding behind Ismail Sabri) of UMNO-BN, Muhyiddin Yassin of Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Anwar Ibrahim of Pakatan Harapan. Forget about Dr Mahathir Mohamad; his Gerakan Tanah Air coalition is about to suffer one of the most humiliating defeats in Malaysia’s electoral history. 

Zahid Hamidi, Ismail Sabri and Muhyiddin Yassin are all cut from the same cloth. Perikatan Nasional is nothing more than a clone of UMNO-BN. 

Desperate for support, both BN and PN are stressing the importance of political stability, national unity and good government among other promises. Ismail Sabri has even promised to form an inclusive government that will look after the interest of all Malaysians irrespective of race or religion while Hadi Awang, delusional as always, says that all will be united under a PAS administration.

But just look at their record. Both Zahid Hamidi and Muhyiddin Yassin were prime movers (along with Hadi Awang) of the Sheraton Move, one of the most infamous acts of political treachery in our nation’s history. Together, they conspired to bring down the duly elected government and nullify the will of the people.

The subsequent infighting among them plunged the nation into a long period of instability and chaos. The country is in disarray; problems are mounting; people are enduring real hardship. Having caused so much chaos, can they now talk about the importance of stability? 

They talk about an inclusive government and catering to the needs of all Malaysians. Again, look at their record. They toppled the Pakatan Harapan government – the nation’s first truly multiracial government – in the name of Malay supremacy. Even the budget that was presented to parliament last October by the BN-PN coalition government completely ignored the legitimate needs of non-Malay voters. 

All that talk about inclusivity is just election propaganda. Racism is simply too ingrained in their DNA to take anything they say about inclusivity seriously.

They talk about corruption. Under UMNO-BN, corruption jumped to new heights. Billions were looted in scandal after scandal. Until Najib was jailed, not a single UMNO-BN bigwig was ever arrested. Zahid himself is now facing multiple charges for corruption, abuse of power and money laundering. 

Can Ismail Sabri, Zahid Hamidi or Muhyiddin Yassin be trusted to clean up corruption? We are where we are today because of their indifference to corruption, their penchant for crony capitalism and the culture of entitlement and impunity that they created. 

That leaves Anwar Ibrahim and the Pakatan Harapan coalition. I am not an uncritical supporter of Anwar or Pakatan. They’ve made mistakes and I have not hesitated to take them to task whenever they have done so. But when you compare what Anwar and Pakatan stand for in comparison to BN and PN, the choice becomes crystal clear.

Whatever his shortcomings, only Anwar has valiantly stood up for the vision of a nation where all are treated with dignity and respect. He alone has championed the kind of reforms that our nation so desperately needs. I dare say that under Pakatan’s 22 months in office, more was done to reform our nation than was accomplished in over 50 years of UMNO-BN rule. 

And thanks to Pakatan Harapan’s commitment to upholding justice and the rule of law, Najib is in prison and Zahid and a lot of others are in court to answer serious charges. Does anyone really think that all this would have happened if UMNO-BN remained in power?

Zahid says that Pakatan Harapan cannot form a stable government; can UMNO-BN form a clean government? Muhyiddin Yassin says Anwar cannot be prime minister as long as he is friends with the DAP; can Muhyiddin be prime minister for all Malaysians as long as he is dependent on Hadi Awang, the biggest racist and extremist of them all? Mahathir claims that Anwar is in cahoots with UMNO; can anyone trust anything Mahathir says after the way he betrayed his own coalition? 

Whatever it is, we have come to another defining moment in our history. Unless change happens and reforms are urgently carried out, only disaster awaits us. Years of UMNO-BN misrule and corruption have taken their toll. Their terrible record cannot be easily dismissed; the evil that they have done far outweighs whatever good they have accomplished. 

It’s time to give Anwar the mantle of leadership that Mahathir and the rest have conspired to deny him. He is the best man now, the only sane choice, for those who want to reverse the our nation’s downward spiral.

So, who will you choose to be your next prime minister? 

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 15th November 2022]