IS ISMAIL SABRI REALLY SUCH A ‘NICE GUY’ – OR JUST A VERY ‘WEAK GUY’ – UNABLE TO FUNCTION INTELLIGENTLY – OR MAKE DECISIONS WITHOUT THE NOD FROM UMNO, BERSATU & PAS WARLORDS

It doesn’t pay to be a nice guy, pundit tells PM

PETALING JAYA: Ismail Sabri Yaakob has been known as the ‘nice guy’ since he entered politics but as prime minister, he needs to be firm to prevent the country from going into shambles, says an academic.

Former Universiti Teknologi Malaysia lecturer Azmi Hassan said Ismail is at his weakest politically as he faces an uphill task in dealing with different camps in Umno, Bersatu and PAS.

Even the move to secure a political understanding with Pakatan Harapan (PH) in September has not worked well for Ismail as there are calls for its review. “The MoU does not add value to Ismail. All political parties know he is a nice guy and they are trying to see how it benefits them,” he said.
Azmi Hassan.

Azmi said because of these factors, Ismail has been in a precarious situation from day one of his appointment, trying to meet the demands of different political parties.

Ismail has come under criticism for his handling of issues like the floods, withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund and a controversy involving Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Azam Baki.

Azmi said Ismail needs to be firm and show that he is in control or the country may be in a shambles as ministers may not fulfil their responsibilities.

“The buck needs to stop with him. The only way he can do that is to be firm,” he said.

Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia said Ismail needs to reshuffle his Cabinet if he intends to consolidate his position as Malaysia’s leader before the next general election.

He said a weak opposition is the only reason that Ismail’s Cabinet is still intact.

Azmil Tayeb.

For Ismail to secure his position, he would have to replace non-performing ministers with competent ones and carry out people-oriented policies, especially assistance to the poor and needy.

“Replacing ministers provides the PM with an optic for reforms. Of course, it’s not going to be sufficient to secure confidence, but it’s a step closer.”

Azmil said Ismail should take ownership of the blunders, inaction and slow responses by the government, especially during the floods.

He agreed with Azmi that the buck stops with Ismail. “He should be more decisive and be involved with the rakyat,” said Azmil.

The prime minister also needs to have better leadership skills, humility and empathy, all of which are lacking at the moment, he added.

En route to becoming prime minister, Ismail, 62, has served as minister for youth and sports; domestic trade, co-operatives and consumerism; agriculture and agro-based industry; rural and regional development; and defence.

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