No choice but to reconvene Parliament

So, the political circus has begun. The Agong is on a round of meetings with the leaders of political parties. There is some talk that Prihatin Nasional (PN) leader Muhyiddin Yassin is stepping down, that Sembrong MP (Umno) Hishamuddin Hussein currently in the former’s Cabinet may take over and MPs are frantically making statutory declarations to get positions in government.

A buzz of political activity! How, in any way, is this helping the people and more urgently providing a solution to arrest the high covid-19 death toll? Zilch! Zero effect!

What the people are seeing are simply politicians running around like headless chickens.

The reason why we are having covid-19 active cases and a death tally dangerously hovering at the cusp of a collapsed health system is because of a lack of top leadership. The recent surge in covid-19 cases hitting South Asian nations isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s the way the covid-19 virus is spreading. But the way each nation is managing it is a reflection of the abilities of the national leadership. In this respect Malaysia has performed dismally because our death toll rose swiftly steeply from around 300 in March this year to over 3,500 in just three months as of today.

This is a clear indication that the PN leadership has failed in effectively managing the covid-19 pandemic, for which it must hold itself responsible and step down.

In the face of that possibility, politicians are going beserk to see who and how they can take over. My two-bit, no body’s advice: Please stop the politicking and look to the federal constitution on the democratic ways to solve this problem.

One of the reasons why the PN has failed to control the spread of covid-19 in the country is because it is unable to get the support of the people. It’s surprising that a Malay-majority coalition touting itself as representative of the Malay majority can’t move its support base to abide by the Movement Control Order (MCO) and get vaccinated. That’s a reflection of an unable leadership.

The people apparently recognize double standards and have lost confidence in the leadership. This is also proof that an unelected government will never be able to get the voluntary support of the people. Most importantly, it shows a huge disconnect between the leaders and the people which the PN has failed to correct.

If Muhyiddin refuses to call for the reconvening of Parliament, a National Operations Council (NOC) may seem like a solution in that all the excess fat of a 70-member Cabinet will be chopped off under a tight national leadership which will eliminate bickering among politicians as well, and the council can get down to the sole business of controlling the pandemic.

The NOC may work, but, I believe, Malaysian politicians need to learn and be trained to operate within the ambit of the federal constitution instead of finding solutions according to political expediency or practical real exigencies. The NOC is a practical solution but it won’t help to ingrain this very urgently needed characteristic of operating by the law among local politicians.

The solution is to return to Parliament. The strident calls and urgent clamour from across the nation must be to lift emergency and reconvene Parliament immediately.

Muhyiddin needs to advise the Agong on this immediately. He can no longer wait. And he must face a no-confidence vote because that is the requirement in a democratic country practising the government system of parliamentary democracy.

It may seem as if the Opposition is in disarray and a significant majority coalition is not evident. That should not be the reason why a no-confidence vote should not be called. Muhyiddin’s coalition has lost the confidence of the people and his leadership or the lack of it has become a liability to the nation. It’s untenable for him to remain in power.

Without a choice being presented to them, MPs may not choose decisively. But, when a choice is given in the form of a no-confidence vote, they will have no choice but to act decisively. This is how the federal constitution forces the MPs to act according to the law and our MPs need to demonstrate strict compliance with the federal constitution.

If Muhyiddin refuses to reconvene Parliament immediately it would be seen as a wilful action on his part to prevent resolution of the leadership issue and at the cost of more lives. If Muhyiddin wishes to salvage his reputation as a man of integrity, he will reconvene Parliament immediately and face a no-confidence vote.

A way out for Bersatu

Surely, Prihatin Nasional (PN) head Muhyiddin Yassin must be considering options for the survival of his party. If PN continues in government, Muhyiddin faces the prospects of losing the support of his voter base due to public frustration and loss of confidence in his leadership in the face of the steeply rising daily active covid 19 cases and death count.

He may be tempted to resign which he mustn’t do now. If he resigns, his Cabinet resigns with him but the coalition doesn’t and coalition partners Umno and PAS — which still maintain their Muafakat Nasional pact — may decide to work out a deal and with royal approval take over the government as PN did when it wrested power from the elected Pakatan Harapan (PH) rightful government. And, they will claim it is constitutional as Muhyiddin did. A political upheaval during these trying times should be avoided at all cost.

To prevent Umno from seizing power, there’s only one option left for Muhyiddin: Reconvene Parliament and face a no-confidence vote. If he wins it, he earns the right to lead the government. If he loses, it means the coalition — not just the Bersatu-led Cabinet — falls and it paves the way for the formation of a unity government, which will allow for a reset to start all over again on the right footing on constitutional grounds in the Dewan Rakyat. Political stability is maintained.

In other words, the current conflict between Bersatu and Umno and the issue of the legitimacy of the PN will be resolved in Parliament once and for all. The reset will take politics back to alignment with the federal constitution with the MPs deciding on the prime minister of the unity government who will form the unity Cabinet.

A unity government will not overnight bring down the covid 19 active cases and death figures nor bring about immediate economic recovery. But it will have ministers with skills, abilities and some experience to lay a strong groundwork for the quickest turnaround.

This is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently and immediately and Muhyiddin should not drag his feet in allowing for an alternative — even if it only has a slim chance to better manage the covid 19 crisis and economic recovery — to happen, because lives will be saved.

If he chooses to remain in government, waiting for the rise in covid 19 cases to peak and then fall, the damage would be done. The voters will not forget their loss and grief. It would also be clear to them that his motive is for personal gain rather than the good of the people. Muhyiddin’s and Bersatu’s political future would be at risk.

If — for the good of the nation — Muhyiddin reconvenes Parliament, faces a no-confidence vote, and even if he loses the premiership, Bersatu stands a chance to remain a viable party.

Because the covid 19 crisis is heading for a state when the public health system collapses, it is imperative that Muhyiddin seizes the opportunity Parliament offers for an alternative government to better manage the pandemic and the economy.

I believe a unity government formed in the Dewan Rakyat will succeed and benefit the people. Muhyiddin can make it happen — if he reconvenes Parliament.

I hope he does. He’ll save his party and the country.

Be accountable to the people and reconvene Parliament

Pasir Salak MP (Umno) Tajuddin Abdul Rahman was sacked as Prasarana Malaysia Bhd chairman following a morning press conference after a collision involving two LRT trains on the night of May 24 in which more than 200 were injured, some of them critically. At the press conference, he flippantly referred to the accident as “two trains kissing”. He was fired immediately.

Ultimately, it is the government of the day which is responsible for the heads of government-linked companies (GLCs) and in this case, to most peoples’ relief, the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition in government acted swiftly and decisively. Questions, however, remain as to whether the finance minister acted according to the constitution.

Those are similar questions we ask about the legitimacy of the PN leadership in the seat of government. The way PN seized power, introduced emergency and suspended Parliament and the state assemblies, demand close scrutiny as to whether they followed the spirit and intent of the federal constitution. Constitutional “irregularities” are greater offences than an uncouth village idiot’s crass insensitivity and callous indifference to human suffering. Yet, the PN remains in the government seat while Tajuddin has been booted out.

No doubt, held accountable, the government acted to dismiss an errant appointment. But who is the PN leadership accountable to? The king? Apparently no, because the king has stated he has no issue with calling for Parliament but PN head Muhyiddin Yassin has refused to comply. Accountable to the people? Apparently no, because at a press conference last week on the sickeningly rising daily numbers of covid-19 cases and deaths, he simply said on national TV, “Call me stupid PM, but ….. ” and in effect left it to the people to handle the pandemic on their own!

Muhyiddin appeared as if threw up his hands in despair in the face of a health disaster and left it to the people to fend for themselves. Isn’t that an abdication of responsibility? Coming from a caring coalition?

Apparently Muhyiddin is accountable to no one, not even to the constitution. Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad described it aptly when he said that Muhyiddin “was above the federal constitution and all laws”!

Muhyiddin’s inconsistencies — intentional or otherwise — are greater in significance than petty Tajuddin’s thoughtlessness. Yet he continues to remain in government with impunity.

Today’s covid-19 cases crossed the 8,000 mark and registered 8,290 after three days in the 7,000 range. Today’s death tally was 61. The reason for the steeply rising covid-19 figures is largely due to the poor management of the pandemic and Muhyiddin has to assume responsibility for it. If the pandemic was well managed, the figures wouldn’t be rising so quickly and steeply. Look at Singapore’s well-managed pandemic. It recorded 26 new cases yesterday and the total deaths are only 32.

The people who are suffering most are mostly in the rural and semi-rural areas, which is the support base of PN MPs. Vaccination is picking up in the urban areas but vaccine hesitancy is a major issue in the rural areas. Kedah and Kelantan recorded 10,000 who missed their vaccination appointments.

The health, economic and political prospects look so bleak that a PN MP (Umno) Deputy Speaker Azalina Othman has called for a unity government to take over. It’s a very good idea but the issue of the prime minister would still be a problem.

A better idea would be to reconvene Parliament where the unity government can be discussed and agreed upon constitutionally. A unity government would allow for the entire country to be mobilized to fight the covid-19 pandemic.

Muhyiddin needs to realise that opposition parties have a diversity of resources and when summoned for the collective good will yield favourable results. PN’s MCA, MIC, PBS and STAR do not have the majority support of their respective communities. They only have one MP in each party. But, DAP, PKR, Warisan, Amanah and Pejuang have majority support in their constituencies and will be able to wield influence to move the grassroots and economic communities to win support for the vaccination programme and arrest the pandemic.

A unity government will be able to move the masses even under a full-force lockdown, which has been announced today from June 1 to 14.

If Muhyiddin refuses to get the help of Parliament, he will be held responsible for the current trajectory we are on. If an election is held in the future it would be political suicide for him and Bersatu.

If “as prime minister”, he truly cares for this country, he should reconvene Parliament and the state assemblies and facilitate the formation of a unity government in the Dewan Rakyat in order to save the country.

Let’s get our own house in order first

I can understand many Malaysians’ anger at Israeli aggression and their heartfelt support for the Palestinians’ desire for nationhood. Any rational and reasonable person anywhere in the world would feel the same. What I don’t get is why Malaysians don’t express the same intensity of emotion when it comes to abuses at home.

Israel’s justification for its actions is self defence. That’s a fair position but when it has to be achieved at the expense of Palestinians’ rights, it becomes an untenable position. No doubt the issue is not as simple as Palestinian rights vs Israel’s rights.

The West Bank and Gaza, which are inhabited by the Palestinians, are controlled by the Hezbollah and Hamas respectively and both are supported by Iran. There are legitimate concerns to ensure that these two areas are not used by Iran to train its guns on Israel or turned into a battleground for a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia as is happening in Yemen in the effort of both countries to assert their influence in the Middle East.

The Palestinian-Israel issue is a complex one and to understand it for a real solution one needs to consider the roles Iran and Saudi Arabia play in the Middle East as well. The Internet is full of information on the complexities of the Middle-East and anyone who is truly interested in it can easily get all the information they need. My point here is not to discuss the Palestinian issue but to use it as a backdrop for what’s happening here in Malaysia.

Many of Israel’s actions may be seen as violations of international laws and the human and democratic rights of the Palestinians. But Israel does not see its actions as violations but as necessary acts of self defence. It is a stand similarly taken by the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition. PN is an unelected, self-appointed coalition in government without the mandate of the people.

Malaysia under the PN coalition has abandoned democratic principles. It has enforced emergency to rule by decree, not by the mandate of the people, and has suspended Parliament.

In that sense, how is the PN any different from Israel? Or Myanmar or Thailand? Like Israel, the leaders of these nations have interpreted the laws of their respective countries and human rights in a way that justifies their action to seize power and to remain in government. Like Israel, they don’t see what they are doing as wrong.

So, if Malaysians are quick to see the wrong of Israel, why don’t they as swiftly see the wrong of the PN coalition in justifying themselves according to their own interpretation of the Federal Constitution? Why this seeming silence? Only the Opposition protests and a small number of people. But the majority seem to be accommodating the PN coalition.

If something like the Sheraton Move and the coup that followed took place in Indonesia, Indonesians — like the Myanmarese — would have spilled on to the streets by the thousands and demanded the restoration of democracy. But, Malaysians? We make a lot of noise when it comes to another nation or a Muslim nation but remain coy and tolerating of constitutional infringements in our own country.

We need to get our own house in order first. Then, we can confidently go to the rescue of another nation in the spirit of solidarity. We need to fight for our rights of self-determination through the democratic processes and demand that these processes are complied with with the strictest of commitment. When we have succeeded, we can speak up for other nations and we will be heard and respected!

I hope our fighters are in hiding rather than not being in existence and will come out when the current surge of covid 19 subsides! There must be a nationwide cry to restore Parliament and the democratic processses. If democracy is what we want then we should be willing to fight for it. We should no longer trust the leaders to make decisions on who should rule but demand the restoration of democratic processes and rule by the mandate of the people.

Malaysians, let’s fight to get our house in order first.

Selamat stay-at-home Hari Raya!

Stay home, folks! Make yourselves comfortable, enjoy home-cooked food, those close around you and feasting at home!

The pandemic constrains our movements but not our relationships and that can be enjoyed together where ever we are. If caught by the movement order and you can’t go home, don’t fret. Stay where you, cook at home or have food delivered to you, watch a lot of TV and online movies or play indoor games and stay connected with family, friends and neighbours!

It can be fun! And it would only be for a short while if we stay home and beat the pandemic. It’s doubtful if we will ever be rid of the covid-19 virus, but if we can bring it to a manageable level, we can get back to normal. How soon we do that depends on how disciplined we are in following SOPs and getting vaccinated.

Much also depends on a capable national leadership to enforce the SOPs, accelerate the vaccination programme and initiate economic recovery. A fumbling flip-flppping leadership will be the major reason if we fail to bring the pandemic down to manageable levels now.

After Raya, it will become immediately urgent to assess the performance of the national leadership and the people should express themselves loudly and vehemently as to exactly what they want of the leadership.

For the moment, though, enjoy the festive occasion! Selamat Hari Raya!

PN’s deafening silence

Last Friday, retiring Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador exposed his boss, Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin, as a meddling leader who allegedly attempted to interfere with the management of the police force and to use it for political advantage.

It raised a hue and cry but Hamzah did not respond to the criticisms and brick bats hurled at him. Nor did his boss, Muhyiddin Yassin, who sits in the prime minister’s seat and who, ultimately, is responsible for the performance of his bloated 70-member Cabinet. Why this silence?

Why maintain this heavily guilt-ridden silence for failing to be accountable to the people? Is this supposed to be the style of the PN leadership? Or, simply the indefensible defensive action of weak and insecure people who have been found out but refuse to accept responsibility for their action or inaction?

Hamid’s expose of Hamzah is a serious allegation and should be addressed by Muhyiddin yet nothing is being done to deal with Hamzah. Not only should Hamzah be disciplined but the PN coalition should resign on account of it because it amounts to failure to lead.

Muhyiddin’s so called “leadership” has led to a minister being accused by no less than the top cop himself and it must be acted upon not glossed over with silence. His leadership has led to one rule for ministers and another for the rest, a minister caught sleeping on the job, others who are invisible and, most importantly, the questionable management of the covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia with daily cases rising over 3,000, bringing the cumulative total to 427,927. The daily single-digit death tally went up to 23 on May 6.

Yet, no response from PN head, Muhyiddin. He is not alone in his seeming paralysis. India’s sick are dying without hospital beds and access to oxygen. The death toll there has averaged over 3,600 per day in the last seven days. In the face of such unbearable tragedy Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained an inelegant silence.

Citizens are dying but poor and weak leaders keep silent. Good leaders will face the people, accept criticisms and suggestions and improve. If their leadership does not benefit the people, they resign. DAP supremo, Lim Kit Siang, in exasperation, ended his article on the dangerous state of our pandemic (Makaysiakini, May 6) by pointedly saying “Malaysia is suffering at having the worst prime minister and the worst government in its 63-year history!”

Yet, not a word from Muhyiddin. He can’t or won’t handle Hamzah; he can’t or won’t reconvene Parliament. If he does, there’s still hope that a bipartisan effort will help arrest the rapid spread of the pandemic and decline of the economy. He can’t operate without the people’s money and resorts to selling assets; he won’t face the people with the truth. But, he wants to remain in power and refuses the help Parliament can offer. Thick-skinned and conscienceless.

Sworn in by the Agong, he needs to ask himself if he and his Cabinet are making the Agong look good? If the Cabinet has failed the trust of the Agong, it must resign. Whether there is an alternative coalition to take over the government or not is not Muhyiddin’s concern. He must step down and let those who can, take over the government because any government (without PAS and Umno) will be better than this!

The country isn’t looking good and Muhyiddin’s silence, like Modi’s, speaks eloquently of a dismally failing government. It’s an inelegant but deafening silence of its abilities or lack of them.

Better to step down than run the country into the ground!

Custodial death, covid-19 surge – PN must give account

The Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador has been demanded to explain the death of A Ganapathy following time under police custody. Ganapathy’s legs were amputated and he later died in hospital after being detained by the police for a period of time.

While a number of politicians and NGOs have demanded an explanation for Ganapathy’s death apparently after time under police custody, the retiring IGP will be replaced by Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani effective from next Tuesday. This is the current deputy IGP who was reported as saying that a rape threat against a teenager was possibly a joke by her classmates.

We will have to wait and see how Acryl Sani will handle the sensitive issue of custodial deaths. However, I believe it’s not the current IGP nor the incoming one who needs to explain Ganapathy’s death and take responsibility for it. It should be the Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin who needs to show his accountability to the people.

Afterall it was he, as chairman of the Police Force Commission, who blocked Hamid’s action to move police officers in a bid to check corruption in the police force. Hamzah defended himself by saying that as chairman he went along with the majority decision by the Police Force Commission.

That’s an excuse rather than a reason to absolve responsibility for his action. Whether he or the Police Force Commission made the decision it undermined Hamid’s authority as the IGP. Hamid had acted totally within his authority to move his men. It’s a strategy taken to ensure discipline but Hamzah and the Police Force Commission undermined it. It would have come across to the police force that the IGP can be ignored since the Police Force Commission has authority over him. Shouldn’t the Police Force Commission be reinforcing the authority of the IGP rather than undermining it?

I wonder if Hamzah understands the implications of his action. If Hamid had had his way, his men might have been restrained from crossing the lines of corruption and abuse of position. But, Hamzah and the Police Force Commission blocked Hamid and they have to assume responsibility for the current actions of the police force.

Nevertheless, don’t expect Hamzah to act positively to resolve the issue of custodial deaths. Characteristic of this so-called “caring” Prihation Nasional (PN) coalition, which dismisses public criticisms on the grounds that its decisions were made by ministers and commissions appointed by the king, they are not accountable to the people.

Hamzah claims he had the right to overrule the IGP by virtue of his position as chairman of the commission. It’s the same claim he made regarding a video where he is said to be discussing the selection of the IGP. In response to a question regarding the video, he said he didn’t know what was his offence.

Seriously? He doesn’t realise he has to follow the normal processes of appointments and not influence the process in favour of his choices? He doesn’t see that as an abuse of position? He doesn’t understand that the IGP has the right to choose his team so that he has a firm control of the police force and that the minister should solidly back him and not undermine him? If Hamzah wants to choose police officers of his choice, why have an IGP? Let him serve as one.

There might be a silver lining in all of these questionable decisions and appointments. They were made under emergency, which means once emergency is lifted all these decisions and appointments can be reversed or challenged in court since the emergency was declared solely for the purpose of managing the covid-19 pandemic.

Yet, even in the only one thing the PN coalition was entrusted to do, it failed. Covid-19 cases are rising sharply and have crossed the 3,000 figure for daily cases and the number of deaths have gone into the double-digit figure of 15 (April 29 figure) with the total number of cases crossing the 400,000 mark.

But, does this “caring” coalition care? How can we conclude that the PN cares when its Health Minister Dr Adham Baba claims that the steep rise in covid-19 cases is due to trends and not management of the pandemic? According to him the sudden surge of cases is due to the current increasing trend of the spread of the virus and similar to the trends in India, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

He compared Malaysia with nations that failed to manage the pandemic from its start? Thailand is the exception with a low number of cases in the early stage of the pandemic but, led by a military government totally insensitive to its people, its covid cases have recently seen a jump in numbers. Adham compares Malaysia with these poorly-managed nations but not with the better managed nations like New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and even Brunei?

Apparently that’s the standard to which we have dropped under the “care” of the PN. Even with a world-class health director-general (DG) like Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and the wealth of skilled and expert health professionals at its disposal, the PN was unable to contain the surging rise in cases.

PN must be held accountable for these failures or just resign.

Baffling PN MPs

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?

Time’s ripe for a new coalition to emerge

Until Members of Parliament act swiftly to form a new Malay-led majority coalition, the Prihatin Nasional (PN) alliance will continue in government by default.

So, if MPs want the PN coalition to step down, emergency lifted and Parliament restored, their parties need to realign themselves and coalesce into a new coalition which can offer itself as a legitimate alternative. When that happens and Umno withdraws from PN, PN will have no choice but to resign. And, it must because a viable alternative has presented itself, proving that PN has no majority.

There will be no need for a general election that would only be a strain on the national coffers and voters tired of Malay politics. The new coalition faces a vote of confidence and if it wins it, wins the mandate to form the new legitimate government until the next general election.

If MPs don’t form a new majority coalition now, there’ll no difference in the outcome of results should a general election take place and PN, though a minority coalition, might still be installed as a caretaker government and it will stay on in government until a majority coalition is formed, which may take a long time to happen if it can not happen now.

It appears as if efforts are afoot for a new coalition to be formed and the immediate strategy of MPs must be to make it happen to bring about PN’s resignation. With an alternative coalition poised to take over and with Umno withdrawing from PN, the latter has to step down.

That would consequentially level the playing field. PN would lose the advantage it now has to attract MPs because of the RM3.5 million allocation available to its MPs for community servicing. With the RM3.5 million bait gone, MPs will have to chose sides based on what is best for their constituents. And some may even leave PN to join the new coalition.

What options do the MPs have? With Umno out of it, PN will become a much smaller entity. With PAS in it, it is unlikely to get the majority support of Christian-based Sabah and Sarawak parties which means it will not be able to get a majority.

The best possibility for a majority coalition is Pakatan Harapan (PH), comprising Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), DAP and Amanah — if it can get the support of Sabah’s Warisan and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s yet to be registered Pejuang. GPS has pledged support for PN but if PN resigns because an alternative exits, GPS may change its mind. In fact, it should; any alliance with a coalition in which PAS is a member will backfire on it.

Today, at the end of its two-day retreat in Port Dickson, PH named PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as its candidate for the prime minister’s post in the 15th general election (GE15) due in 2023. However between now and then, PH’s leadership is left open, which means there is a chance for Mahathir to return or someone aligned to him to return to lead a PH Plus majority coalition.

The Mahathir factor should not be excluded because he could rally the support of Warisan and perhaps GPS too and even some Umno MPs to join forces with PH to form PH Plus which would have a very comfortable majority, at least until GE15.

Umno’s future is uncertain. It’s court cluster leadership is being asked to make way for new elections. So, there will be new leaders or some MPs may break away. In either situation, there would be possibilities to negotiate with Umno or its breakaway MPs to join or be friendly towards PH. By itself Umno can’t form a coalition. If it joins forces with PAS no one else will join it. By allying itself with PH it can survive in some way.

If PH Plus can be a convincing majority coalition, PN will have to resign and a caretaker government or new government under a leadership that can ably manage the transition period can be formed to last until GE15. It’s the best option to move forwards and it’s up to the MPs to make it happen.

Where is honour among MPs?

On March 26, the White House uploaded on its website a statement announcing the list of countries whose leaders have been invited to attend a virtual Leaders Summit on Climate that US President Joe Biden will host on April 22 and 23. The countries invited included the G7 nations and China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam. Notably absent in the list was Malaysia.

The leading democratic nation of the world apparently has no confidence that the present leadership of Malaysia with its rich resources is a worthy partner in the worldwide effort to manage the climate which is becoming the predominant issue of the world. Malaysia used to be the leader in Asean in representing regional issues but it appears as if Indonesia and Singapore are being recognised as the leaders best able to lead this charge into the future.

But does the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition care how it is viewed by the rest of the world? If it doesn’t care how it is viewed by its own people, would that matter? Well, it may not matter now because the world is still grappling with the covid 19 pandemic. But as the world gradually opens up to rebuilding the economy, Malaysia will find limited sources of funds and may end up like former Prime Minister Najib Razak looking to China and Saudi Arabia for funds and paying a heavy price for it. How will the PN be any different from Najib’s government then?

At least, the Najib government was legitimate because it was an elected government with a proven majority. But, can the PN government claim that legal and constitutional standing?

PN needs to take a good look at itself and consider how it is being viewed and why. Then, perhaps, it will realise that it has no standing to stay in government — not even under emergency — and resign. The reason why it has left a trail of political instability is because of questions of its legitimacy. That may also affect the way the world views it. How can democratically-elected governments recognise Malaysia as a peer among them when issues of its legitimacy remain unresolved? Demonstrate able leadership by convening Parliament and face a no confidence vote or resign.

Resigning is a way of making a dignified exit when you know you have lost, but Malaysian politicians apparently know nothing about honour. Their motto: Cling on because you can to stay in power. Honour is irrelevant if you can’t stay in government.

GPS is no different

Following the recent High Court decision, when PN sent the “Allah” issue to the rulers for a deliberation, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) went into a huddle. The decision would affect the constitutional rights of 40 % of Sarawak’s population who are Christians and ethnic non-Malay bumiputeras. GPS’ alliance with PN has put the constitutional religious rights of this the largest community in Sarawak at risk. Yet, its MPs have chosen to align itself with PN and yesterday expressed their support for Muhyiddin as prime minister.

GPS has seemingly sold off the constitutional rights of its own people for federal government support. The logic behind the decision escapes me.

With Umno now having declared it will pull out of PN after Aug 1 when the emergency ends, PN is on its way out, unless PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin intends to stay on by not upholding the constitution and proving its majority in Parliament. Perhaps, GPS suspects that is what will happen and have decided to throw in their lot with Muhyiddin. Common sense, however, dictates that with Umno out, PN will have no majority and GPS will be unable to be kingmaker. Why is it allying itself with a coalition that has no standing to remain in government and which will put the constitutional rights of its own people at risk?

It would be interesting to see how its voters will react regarding this issue in the upcoming Sarawak state elections. GPS may still win but my prediction is that it will lose its comfortable majority and it will lose its position to be kingmaker.

GPS’s decision to support Muhyiddin makes no sense. GPS should resign and be independents in the Dewan Rakyat and protect the interests of its people. But, apparently, typical of Malaysian politicians, political expediency for whatever misguided reason comes before duty to your voters. No honour in that, it appears!

The Opposition that isn’t the alternative

To be fair to GPS, it faced a difficult choice. It did not have a viable alternative to join and did not have the guts to go it alone. If Muhyiddin is responsible for the continuous state of political unrest we are in, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has only itself to blame for being unable to provide an alternative.

PKR is realising that without former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the Opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH) is facing an issue of credibility. Neither PN nor Umno/BN wants to ally with PH. Without Mahathir, neither GPS nor Sabah’s Warisan will join it. PH with PKR, DAP and Amanah can together have about 88 MPs on its side. That is insufficient to form a majority coalition and it can’t lure other parties to join in.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim thought he could get the court cluster of Umno MPs facing criminal charges in court to join PH but Umno president Zahid Hamidi poured cold water on that prospect when he said at the Umno general assembly last weekend that there would be no alliance with PKR or DAP.

Umno apparently has been given a lifeline and it is resurging and feels confident it can go it alone. But like PH and PN, individually, none of these coalitions will get a majority. So, even if elections are held now, the outcome would be no different from the current political situation.

But if PKR decides to work with Mahathir, PH could get the support of both Warisan and GPS and that would be a clear majority coalition which neither Umno/BN nor PN will be able to match. This is the rightful government of Malaysia which won the mandate to govern in GE14 in 2018.

Again, the logic escapes me as to why Anwar will not respect the GE14 mandate of the people just because he doesn’t want to work with Mahathir. Personal reasons should be set aside and the mandate of the people should be respected. If Anwar will not take the lead to restore the GE14 mandate, it is not surprising that parties like GPS and Warisan are abandoning it and finding politically expedient ways to hold on to power.

If Anwar follows the spirit and intent of the constitution and pushes for the restoration of PH Plus, he would solve the current impasse and demonstrate his ability to abide by the constitution even if it means he wouldn’t be prime minister. He will win the respect of the people and he might still become PM in the near future.

Anwar can resolve the current stalemate. The question is whether he sees honour in doing so at personal cost.

Putting the interests of voters first, over political expediency, for the good of the nation is honourable. I am waiting to see who among our MPs will demonstrate such honour. I am still waiting …. .