While happy that Convent Bukit Nanas got an extension of its land lease by 60 years, I was surprised by the decision and the speed with which the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) made the announcement.
Such a quick decision by Prihatin Nasional (PN) leader Muhyiddin Yassin in response to public outrage and regarding a Christian school is a little short of a miracle! From the moment he was named as prime minister by the Agong, he has not once responded positively to public opinion.
The day after he was named PM, his coalition lost its majority because former prime minister and his then party president, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, got the backing of 113 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat but Muhyiddin seemed to have kept quiet about it and went ahead with the swearing in when he should have told the king that he had lost his majority and resigned. This may be history but it shows how he operates.
Then, there was a huge hue and cry asking him to validate his appointment by facing a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. He kept quiet and, instead, fired the then Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat and appointed his own candidate without an election which was unconstitutional. Despite the furore, he kept quiet and didn’t yield.
This was followed by endless requests to face a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. He made no response, maintaining his silence and continued as the government of the day without the mandate of the people.
When his coalition partner, bitter about not being given the chief minister’s post in Sabah, threatened to destablize his coalition, he sought emergency powers from the Agong but failed to get it. He made no comment and bided his time.
Early this year, when Umno MPs Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub and Mohamad Nazri quit the PN, it lost its majority again but Muhyiddin remained silent NOT doing what all right-thinking prime ministers do when they lose the majority — resign. He kept quiet like a child keeps quiet hoping no one finds him out, but when one of his lackeys was able to lure an opposition MP to join him, he quickly made a public appearance and claimed he had a majority.
But, during the few days he didn’t have a majority, he had no right to function in the role of prime minister but he quietly continued in the role and went to see the Agong and sought emergency powers and suspended Parliament. The emergency powers were meant to manage the covid-19 pandemic but he and his Cabinet started performing other duties as well and no one could do anything about it despite the numerous online petitions asking him to resign, and resign and call for the reconvening of Parliament. He remains silent and immovable.
Then, suddenly, when the Convent Bukit Nanas issue cropped up on April 19 when the school was granted leave by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to challenge the non-renewal of its land lease, which is due to expire on September 6 this year, there was a public outcry to extend the lease and in just three days — yesterday — the PMO released a statement saying that the lease has been extended by 60 years!
What made Muhyiddin cave in to public demands when right up to this issue he totally ignored public opinion? What or who influenced him? It would be interesting to know. Just like that Convent Bukit Nanas got a land lease extension, yet after a year of repeated public calls he doesn’t resign and he doesn’t call for the reconvening of Parliament. Baffling!
What else is baffling is that the MPs in his coalition are fully aware of all the unconstitutional acts and double standards committed by the PN yet they remain in the coalition. With the exception of Umno MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who withdrew support for the PN on the grounds that it was not an elected government and one which didn’t get the mandate of the people through a no-confidence vote and, therefore, unconstitutional, not one other MP has resigned, not wishing to be part of an unconstitutional government.
If one or two MPs from among the 222 elected MPs turned rogue and acted unconstitutionally, I can just accept it as a case of a few rotten apples. But when more than one third of them don’t seem to have the moral courage nor will to disassociate themselves from unconstitutional acts, and stand up for parliamentary democracy, you begin to wonder how these MPs got elected. It doesn’t inspire confidence in Malay-majority leadership, at least, not among the non-Malays even after an “acquiescence” like the Convent Bukit Nanas land lease extension.
The two other Umno MPs who resigned did so not for constitutional reasons, but for political reasons; they were unhappy at the way Umno was treated in the PN. It really is baffling why, like Razaleigh, not even one other PN MP would choose to resign for constitutional reasons.
The people need to vote these MPs out in the next general election. How can we trust them to abide by the rules of parliamentary democracy and uphold the federal constitution?