Muhyiddin’s political misadventures continue …

First, in February 2020, we had a coup when Muhyiddin Yassin became prime minister when the Agong swore him into the position although Muhyiddin’s coalition did not have a majority. Now we have another coup as Muhyiddin’s Prihatin Nasional minority government is recognised as the government of the day when the Agong acceded to the prime minister’s request to declare an emergency.

According to the details of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 made public by the Attorney-General’s Chambers today and reported by Malaysiakini, it is to be applied retroactively from Jan 11, 2021.  Malaysiakini also reported that “for so long as the emergency is in force, the prime minister and the cabinet existing immediately prior to the issuance of the Proclamation of Emergency on Jan 11, 2021 have been conferred executive functions and shall continue to exercise the executive authority of the federation”.

There you have it! Through a declaration of an emergency, Muhyiddin has ensured that his minority PN government will continue to govern until he decides to end it. What is the significance of this? With Parliament suspended, Muhyiddin gets sweeping powers without the checks and balances of Parliament.

Muhyiddin said the emergency declaration was sought to give the government more powers to combat the third wave of covid 19. His motives, however, remain unclear. Is he trying to manage the health problem or save his PN government? His actions, however, raise more questions than provide solutions.

On Jan 9, Machang MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub (Umno) withdrew his support for Muhyiddin’s government leaving the latter with only 110 MPs. That was exactly 50% of the 220 lawmakers that make up the Dewan Rakyat. 50% is not a majority but technically the PN coalition was still the leading coalition, albeit a minority one.

Suddenly a minority unelected government — even if it’s the biggest minority component — with what authority did Muhyiddin seek an audience with the Agong as the head of government without first resigning? An even more important question is why did the Agong entertain and accommodate the head of a minority coalition and accorded it the status of a government without the former resigning first?

Isn’t that how a parliamentary democracy works? When the ruling coalition loses its majority, it must resign first. The leader of that coalition then tells the Agong that it has lost its majority and resigns. The Agong then may ask him to seek a majority. If the leader fails, he goes back to say so to the Agong who then seeks the next coalition who he thinks has a majority. When all the coalitions fail to get a majority, the Agong is free to appoint a minority coalition who he thinks may have the majority and appoint the leader as PM.

This is the democratic process. Why did Muhyiddin fail to follow it?

An honourable leader committed to parliamentary democracy will first resign. He will not seek to continue to govern as if he has the right to govern when he has lost a majority.

Muhyiddin announced a return of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on Monday, Jan 11. On Tuesday morning, Jan 12, he announced a nationwide state of emergency. Later in the day, Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz (Umno) announced that he has withdrawn support for Muhyiddin. The PN government now only has 109 MPs, clearly no longer a majority.

Why didn’t Muhyiddin resign when he clearly lost the majority in the Dewan Rakyat? Instead, and, today, Friday, three days later the Attorney-General’s Chambers makes public the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 202 that retroactively recognises the PN government from prior to Jan 11 by fiat.

Does this show an effort to curb the covid 19 pandemic or that Muhyiddin used the royal institution and the advantage of being the incumbent government to enforce emergency for political purposes?

At the least, Muhyiddin’s actions show a leadership lacking in confidence in using the skills and resources at its disposal to manage a national crisis. The covid 19 pandemic is no doubt a threat to the nation but it isn’t a runaway health problem as it is in the United States or UK or France or Brazil that it requires emergency powers to deal with.

The US recorded 22.4 million cases and 373,000 deaths (WHO statistics) in comparison to Malaysia’s 147,855 cases and 578 deaths (Star Online). The US hasn’t declared an emergency but we with much, much lower figures have. This only shows the PN leadership does not have crisis management skills and instead of resigning and letting others who have take over, it is hanging on to power.

Malaysia’s covid 19 cases are high with most of its cases coming from Selangor. But former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad who now leads the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 said in December that cases were expected to rise because of aggressive testing in the state, especially mandatory testing of foreign workers.

In a Malay Mail report on Dec 12, 2020, Dulkefly said that the high numbers should instead be viewed as the efficacy of the additional testing in weeding out Covid-19 cases that would otherwise not have been detected. Discovering and isolating such cases was crucial in order to contain the pandemic, he added.

It was a similar strategy that Singapore used during the first MCO in March last year. While our daily figures were in low triple digits for cases and double digits for fatalities, Singapore’s figures were shooting into four-digits. But, a year later its figures are much lower than Malaysia’s at 58,946 cases and 29 deaths (WHO statistics). Its cases are classified as sporadic while ours are classified as clusters.

Apparently, Singapore’s strategy worked. Their leaders trusted their health professionals and when figures were rising supported the health system solidly without panicking and resorting to extreme measures that ours have.

The fact that Muhyiddin has resorted to relying on an emergency is clearly an admission that his health policies have failed. By refusing to resign although his PN coalition is now a minority, he has created a constitutional crisis. Thanks to his leadership, we now have to deal with a health and a constitutional crisis. We can’t continue to have such leadership.

The Opposition needs to wake up to the options available to them now. It’s not enough for Pakatan Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim to call on the MPs to call on the Agong to rescind the emergency order. As Opposition leader, he has every right to seek an audience with the Agong to say that the PN government is a minority government and should resign and that the Agong should facilitate the process of finding a majority government.

The Opposition needs to take the bull by the horns. Perhaps, seek the advice of former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on how to handle this situation. We no longer want backdoor governments. We want constitutionally approved governments and we want to see Opposition leaders demonstrate a better leadership than what we are seeing in the PN government in restoring parliamentary democracy.

Enough of talking. Make it happen.

Capitol riot, PN leaders and the rule of law

The riot at the US Capitol when President Donald Trump’s supporters breached security and entered the building has besmirched the reputation of western democracies which have always prided themselves on their non-violent adherence to the rule of law — no doubt. Yet, despite the initial chaos and melee, eventually, the rule of law was restored.

The supporters were egged on by Trump to gather at the rally as he made unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen from him although he had lost both the popular and electoral votes. The rally was meant to be a last-ditch effort to prevent Democratic candidate Joe Biden from being confirmed as the presidential election winner by the US Congress.

At some time during the rally, the crowd surged and pushed past the security officers who retreated, followed by the crowd who entered the building. One person was shot and killed and three others died of medical emergencies during the seige.

It was mayhem but the leaders didn’t fail the nation nor the democratic processed. The election was held, the votes were counted and recounted and congressmen met at the Capitol to confirm President-elect Biden as the winner. And when the siege happened, the National Guard was called, the Capitol building was secured, and a number of Democrats started calling for Trump to resign. A day later several Republicans in Trump’s own staff handed in their resignation. And Trump finally announced he would ensure a smooth and orderly transition of power to Biden. The rule of law upheld.

A democratic tradition does not mean that everything will go by the book. People being human will do all sorts of things but good leaders — not necessarily great leaders — are those who will adhere to the rule of law. In the Capitol siege, in the end, there was resolution because the leaders, including Trump, followed the rule of law. And political stability was restored.

Here in Malaysia, we have Sheraton Moves, Sabah moves, dismissal of all 46 corruption charges against a former chief minister, failure to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament, sacking of an elected Speaker, the appointment of an unelected Speaker, vote-buying, MP-buying …  Where on earth is the rule of law?

The Prihatin Nasional (PN) claims to be a caring coalition but it does what it likes and calls it the new normal. What we are seeing in the PN is simply a law unto themselves.

Look at its coalition partner Umno who has been threatening to leave the PN since the Sabah elections when they didn’t get the Sabah chief minister’s post. It had on two occasions in the past, working with Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim, threatened to pull out of PN but it never materialised. Now it plans to discuss the cutting of ties with Bersatu, the small party which insists on leading the PN government, at its general assembly on Jan 31.

Will it materialise or, like always, at crunch time, they quietly back out after kicking up a fuss and creating a storm of hot air? Bersatu president and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will maintain a strategic silence and wait to see if it actually happens. If it doesn’t happen, he escapes by the skin of his teeth!

Maybe, he knows what I suspect, that Umno will not carry through its intention. He is willing to risk instability in order to remain in power. That’s all PN leaders want — power. But how they wield is beside the point.

Take Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan who has publicly declared that the reason for his party’s gripe with Bersatu is due to the latter’s “cruelty” in continuing with the corruption cases involving Umno members. Maslan and Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Umno adviser and former prime minister Najib Razak are among a number of Umno members facing criminal charges in court.

“Cruelty?” Don’t only little boys cry “cruelty”, “unkind”, “you’re hurting us” when disciplined and try to weasel their way out of facing the consequences of their actions? Maslan is so wounded that he doesn’t realise he is suggesting executive interference? Bersatu is to be blamed because it invited this party lead by people facing court cases to join the PN. Where on earth is the rule of law? That was sacrificed for the sake of political expediency.

The actions of Bersatu ministers are also suspect. The appointed Speaker refuses to exercise the independence afforded to him under the law to decide on a no-confidence vote unless he gets a directive from the minister. Just recently, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s party, Pejuang’s, and former minister Syed Saddiq’s Malaysian United Democratic Alliance’s (Muda) applications to be registered as political parties were rejected.

Tun said at a press conference that the Registrar of Societies said that Pejuang’s application was in order but it had to be referred to the minister, the Home Minister in this case.

Is this the rule of law? Any Malaysian’s application for registration of a society or party must be approved if it’s in order. A minister can’t reject it for whatever reasons especially when the reasons are not given. That’s denying citizens our right of association.

We want the rule of law, not leaders who are a law to themselves. Such leaders should never be allowed to govern.

The Opposition needs to take up the cry for the rule of law. They are being too quiet. There should be loud demands for the PN government’s resignation. And, responsible ministers in PN’s government must resign on their own volition. They need to put the nation first.

Learn from the US experience.

Happy New Year! Or, another bleak year?

Annus Horribilis is past and I’m hoping against hope that this will be annus mirablis: a year of auspicious events or miracles!

On a personal level, I hope, individually, after that terrible 2020, there will be some favourable news or even a miracle for each of us. The new vaccine to fight covid-19 is in some ways a miracle. After all these years when we were unable to find a vaccine even for the common flu, it is amazing that just in one year a vaccine was discovered to fight covid-19. There is still much about the vaccine we don’t know and especially about its side effects but the fact that it is available offers hope that people don’t have to die from the virus.

Politically, I am not optimistic that this year would get better. I think we are stuck with the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government not because it has earned the right to govern but because the Opposition failed to unite as a singular force to reckon with. That is largely due to Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) refusal to go along with its partners in its Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

There were several occasions in the last year when PH could have restored the 2018 mandate of the people but that never happened due to the conflict between former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.  Tun’s most recent statement that it will be difficult to work with Anwar seems to suggest that he has other plans besides the possibility of forming a grand Pakatan Plus coalition.

Well, until the Opposition unites as a single united force, we can continue to expect the petty blaming bickering that the Opposition is currently engaging in and the blundering and bungling and bumbling of the PN.

If the Opposition wants a reset of the political climate — as what most people want — it needs to rise against petty loyalty to certain figures and look at facts. One clear fact is that in the current scenario, Tun is the best candidate to lead the Opposition to form a government. Any other candidate will not get the combined majority support if PKR doesn’t stand in the way. Amanah and DAP are open to working with him. With Tun at the helm, there is also the slim chance that some MPs in PN may switch for the sake of the nation rather than for personal agenda.

A credible leadership will seize such an opportunity as 13 men did in the last Dewan Rakyat session when only they stood up to seek for bloc voting when voting was called to pass Budget 2021 at the policy stage. They read the situation clearly. It was a fluid state with Umno members seething over not being given the chief minister’s post after the Sabah elections and there was a chance they might vote against the government. These 13 men stood up and if Anwar hadn’t sent a message to stop the rest more might have stood up and who knows PH might be in government now.

Frankly, it appears as if there are only 13 MPs who will put nation first and seize the opportunity when it offers itself.  We need such leaders, not those who play games and form pacts with unsavoury characters for the sake of political expediency.

With Tun at the helm, a reset will be inevitable. But, it must happen soon not at the next general elections. A Tun-led Opposition needs to take over Putrajaya from PN sooner rather than later. When that happens, it will give time for ALL political parties to elect the leaders they want to lead them into the future. It will offer a chance for a new crop of leaders to emerge and stand for election in the next general elections.

If the PN government is allowed to continue, the same leaders will stand for elections and the status quo will remain. The same people will be reelected and PN will continue to lead the government. It will be same old, same old!

If Tun leads the charge for a change in government, it is unlikely that he will stay in politics beyond the next general elections and it is very likely we will see new leaders taking over the government.

The Opposition needs to think carefully what strategy it wishes to employ rather than be swayed by emotion and seek its own personal agenda. If they want a reset, the path before them is clear. If they don’t want a reset, that path is also clear. The question is whether Opposition leaders have the will and guts to stand up for the nation and make a reset happen! That will make this year annus mirablis!

Merry Christmas, all!

It’s a muted Christmas, no doubt, thanks to the covid-19 pandemic. But, take heart. This is the season to do something to take your mind off your worries and find a little relief or comfort or joy.

Remember, the first Christmas was no merry event. A couple could not find a room so that the wife could deliver her child. They were driven to a stable where her baby was born. No family was around, no relatives or friends. Her visitors were strangers, the local shepherds and three kings from faraway. But, look at the song that came out of that lowly birth which is sung all across the Earth on Christmas day and every day for more than 2,000 years! A song of hope, love and life!

It’s an occasion to celebrate. Do what we can to find some enjoyment. If we don’t feel good despite the celebrations, that’s alright. Just taking part in the celebrations will make us move forwards and aid in eventual resolution. But don’t work yourself up to a climax and then hit a low the next day!  Enjoy quietly!

So, have yourselves an enjoyable time, this Christmas!


‘Tis the season of hope …

It’s Christmastime! This is the season when hope abounds. The whole world may have ground to a halt due to a mysterious invisible virus, money may not be enough, relationships may be wavering, jobs are lost, the future looks bleak, but its’s Christmas! It is a celebration of hope in the midst of adversity!

So, friends, take the hope the season offers. No matter the gloom and doom around us! That’s reality and that’s why we have Christmas — to offer hope that we can get out of this mess. If we are true to hope we will do everything we can to realise our hope. It may require us to adjust to the situation or rise above it or change course or give up the thing hoped for. As we do these things we will grow and even if sometimes we don’t get what is hoped for, we discover we don’t go down under either. We can live and live to the fullest and able to consider alternatives and move on.

Never think we are stuck in a situation we can’t get out of and we have no choice. Don’t believe it! It’s a lie that makes us hopeless and helpless, leading us to resort to underhanded methods to get what we want. Hope, instead, always makes us move forward.

That’s why Christmas means so much to me and no matter what my circumstances are, I enjoy it. It wasn’t always like that and there were many miserable Christmases but hope kept me going and over time every day eventually became a Christmas day and when the season comes around I set out to enjoy myself. It is a celebration of the life I now live because hope brought me through!

Hope took me through my darkness. Living was painful in dealing with depression. But faith gave me hope through a promise. It was the strongest motivator to live that I had. Through the decades of tripping and relapsing, I clung to the hope of the fulfilment of the promise. In the process, I confronted every skeleton in my closet, every demon that reared its ugly head and buried them all one by one never to haunt me again because I wanted to live to realise the promise of a future!

So, I learnt to live and living wasn’t painful anymore. I saw limitless possibilities before me and knew myself enough to know what I wanted and what I didn’t want and made my choices accordingly. It set me free and soon the promise that I held on to in hope wasn’t important anymore. I could let go of it because I saw options and choices before me. If one failed, another worked. And it was exciting finding my way through the options and choices.

I would never have reached this place of mental rest if I hadn’t latched on to the hope of a future. It took years but hope enabled me to persevere and here I am!

So, friends, if everything looks bad just take the hope of Christmas and let hope lighten your burden. Hope will give you the will to fight for your breakthrough.

I’m waxing philosophical this season! Enjoy the season!

Conservatives or progressives? Which side to choose?

All of a sudden Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has turned “religious”. In his policy speech at the third annual general meeting of Bersatu, the party president said that it was “God’s will” that Bersatu and the two other Malay-based parties, Umno and PAS, came together to form Prihatin Nasional. The same point was echoed by his Senior Minister Azmin Ali in an interview he gave to The Star last Sunday.

Well, I could have explained to both of them the reason why these parties came together without bringing God into the picture! The answer is simply birds of a feather flock together. Umno was thrown out of government in the last general elections. PAS, by virtue of its extreme Islamic beliefs, is marginalised. Bersatu is a minority party leading the government. All three saw in Muhyiddin’s misadventure an opportunity to get into the government and coming from a common background found it convenient to band together.

What has God got to do with this? This is base greed for power. The fact that the Bersatu leaders expressed their religious sentiments is not the issue of contention here. What is of concern is that they refuse to see their actions as plain basic human nature and are hiding behind this notion of “God’s will” because then they don’t have to assume responsibility for undertaking an unconstitutional coup.

Muhyiddin, of course, is playing to the gallery as appealing to Muslim-Malay characteristics and unity resonate with his Malay support base. That is a political ploy and it should be seen for what it really is — cleverly crafted words aimed at winning support and deflecting attention from the legitimacy of the PN government.

It also shows the direction in which the Prime Minister is leading the PN government — a step towards conservatism.  Like it or not the PN is a conservative coalition. Its parties range from the less conservative — like Umno — to the far-right radically Islamic — like PAS. Bersatu is somewhere in between. PN upholds the conservative agenda of race, religion and royalty and, under the PN leadership, we can expect these to be reinforced and strengthened.

If the PN government were conservative but respects the parliamentary democracy we practice and abides by it, it can be accepted as an alternative coalition but up to now, we don’t see it upholding the constitution.  Instead, it is apparent that it is bypassing the Dewan Rakyat or, at least, diminishing its relevance to legitimising a government.

Already, we are witnessing more and more conservative positions being expressed in the public domain with little dissent. The PN government was aided to function without legitimacy from the Dewan Rakyat. The previously elected Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat was dismissed and replaced with an unelected Speaker ignoring questions on the constitutionality of the decision.

A PN MP freely puts down other religions in the Dewan Rakyat such as the comment that the Christian Bible is altered and just recently the same PAS MP made the ridiculous call to term the US a “terrorist country”. Such comments are akin to hate speech and should never be uttered but the PAS MP gets away with it.

In Kedah, a Hindu temple is demolished for being “illegal” when its history shows it was built with approval. According to coalition partner MIC, the Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor (PAS assemblyman) made a unilateral decision without consulting with the MIC as agreed upon under a prior arrangement. MIC deputy president and Human Resources Minister M Saravanan said that Sanusi had broken his promise.

Should that surprise anyone? When dealing with a conservative coalition or an ultra radically Islamic party one can expect multi-culturalism and the progressive policies of peaceful and respectful co-existence and modernization to take a backseat to religious, race and royal priorities.

Clearly, knowingly or unknowingly, the PN government is pushing forward a conservative agenda. Allowing this coalition to govern will inevitably lead to a course backwards not forwards.

That’s the sole reason why PN allies such as the MIC, MCA and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) need to rethink their participation in this coalition. Will a conservative agenda protect their interests or sacrifice them in the name of race, religion and royalty?

There are also liberals and progressives in PN. If the conservatives who carry the majority of the votes become stronger — they will if they continue to stay in power — will the voices of the liberals and progressives be heard or drowned?

MIC, MCA and PBS and the non-conservatives within PN need to understand that the issue before the Dewan Rakyat with regard to Budget 2021 isn’t about partisan politics. It is an issue of voting for conservatism or progress. The former would mean strengthening the institutions of race, religion and royalty on which the PN came to power which consequently would lead to the weakening of parliamentary democracy in the country.

If they favour progress, then they should choose a course of action which upholds parliamentary democracy which would take this nation forwards, not backwards. They need to keep this in mind when they make a final vote after the third reading of Budget 2021 in the current Dewan Rakyat session.

If the Opposition will unite as a single bloc and stand up for a division vote after the third reading of the Budget, who knows, it may inspire the liberals and progressives in the PN to vote with them. It will be a vote for progress, not regress, cutting across party lines.

The Budget may be defeated and cause the fall of the PN government because MPs chose parliamentary democracy over the parochial agenda of race, religion and royalty.

What Anwar has done …

What happened at the Dewan Rakyat on Nov 26 when Budget 2021 was passed at the policy stage by a voice vote?

Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar (Amanah) requested for a block vote and 12 other MPs stood up in support but the number fell short of the 15 MPs required to get the block vote. Opposition MPs sat on their bottoms, confused because they received a message from Opposition Leader and PKR president and PH leader Anwar Ibrahim telling them to let the Budget pass the policy stage.

After the Dewan Rakyat session ended, Anwar told reporters that he had sent the directive to not be “seen as going against” Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz after the concessions the latter made to give more aid to farmers, fishermen and other disadvantaged groups.

Anwar might have felt that if he were to go against the Budget, it might backfire on him in his Port Dickson constituency where fishermen and farmers form a major component of his support base. If that were the case he could have just told the PH MPs that he wasn’t going to reject the Budget but they were free to stand up for the block vote. Problem solved. But he didn’t do that.

Or, he might not have wanted to go against the finance minister because he didn’t want to be seen going against the Agong whose support he would need should he form a majority coalition sometime in the near future. This is the lamest of his reasons because, in the Dewan Rakyat, the MP is accountable to the people who voted him in. No one else matters.

On this count, Anwar demonstrated a miserable lack of leadership. He thought of his constituency of semi-rural/semi-urban constituents who may not understand the implications of defeating Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Budget and may only understand what help they can get. That is understandable but Anwar failed to think of ALL the other urban constituencies the majority of MPs represent in PH.

It is these constituencies who provide the bulk of taxpayers’ money. They are driving the economy and they do not begrudge the money spent wisely on those who need it. But, they are deeply concerned that the rule of law applies in this country and that their representatives exercise their constitutional rights and vote on their behalf.

The urban voters don’t want a backdoor government and they want it removed constitutionally. They are totally against a government that they didn’t vote for using their money and the Budget should be defeated on that ground.

Urban voters may not be dependent on the government but they understand the importance of upholding parliamentary democracy and in fighting for the latter they are fighting on behalf of ALL Malaysians and it should be recognised.

The fact that Anwar did not recognise and respect the urban voters’ demands and stopped their MPs from voting on their behalf is inexcusable if it isn’t downright sabotage of voters’ rights.  If the block vote was approved, who knows we might have a new legitimate government today. But, thanks to Anwar, an illegitimate government continues to function.

Perhaps, the real reason why Anwar stopped the block vote was that he was given to understand that his chums in Umno, namely the court cluster group he is said to be negotiating with to form a majority coalition, among whom are those facing criminal charges in court, were not going to reject the Budget. Not having the numbers to form a government, Anwar may have thought of buying more time to form a coalition with them or others.

Surely, Anwar isn’t all that naive? By now he should know that the Umno rebels are all talk and hot air who only threaten as a bullying tactic to get their demands and who will be appeased by a few token concessions to save face as long as they are allowed to stay in the government.

These are also the very same people that PH toppled and now Anwar wants to join forces with them so that he can become prime minister? He has to face reality and accept the fact that he is never going to form a coalition with them!

Anwar needs to understand what Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah knows: that Muhyiddin’s government is an illegitimate government that refuses to seek legitimacy by facing a no-confidence vote and, therefore, everything it does is illegitimate, including the tabling of the Budget. The only way to get rid of such a government is to defeat the Budget it has no right to table.

That is the only thing left now for the MPs to do. Defeat the Budget and install a legitimate government. Anwar needs to forge a coalition with other more reliable partners even if it means he can’t be prime minister.

If he can’t do that, then, it is time for PH coalition partners DAP and Amanah to put their foot down so that an alternative coalition can be formed. If he can’t go along with that then he should take a backseat and let someone else who can take over.

All Opposition effort must be to defeat Budget 2021. It would be ideal if an alternative coalition can take over the government. If that fails, there should be no general elections and no emergency. The Agong should be advised to appoint an interim prime minister with a much smaller Cabinet to govern until the next general elections.

Vote to save parliamentary democracy

Federal Territories minister Annuar Musa’s recent directive reveals his ability level. In an effort to help the rakyat, Annuar announced that petty traders could set up shop anywhere in the Federal Territory. He may be well-intentioned but is it an effective plan that will bring about the desired results?

Did he consider zoning, hygiene and housing by-laws and what implications and restrictions they would place on petty traders? Or, was his plan to waive all these restrictions which were set up to develop the city in a well-planned organised way for the sake of the rakyat?

If so, it would be another example of how ministers are prepared to compromise existing laws in order to “help the poor rakyat”. Is this rule of law or abuse of powers? I suppose he is following in the example of his friend and boss Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who also compromised the rules of parliamentary democracy and seized power through a coup and stubbornly continues to govern without seeking legitimacy from the Dewan Rakyat.

They justify breaking the rules in the name of helping the rakyat but is the rakyat being helped?

Consider again Annuar’s plan for petty traders. The Federal Territory is a red zone and people can’t move from the red zone to the green zone or vice versa under the covid-19 pandemic map. So, who will be patronising these petty traders? They would have spent money setting up shop but the cost wouldn’t warrant the low volume of customers. So, would this plan help the petty traders apart from risking the further spread of covid-19?

Did Annuar think through his plan or in the typical fashion of leaders of his type announce a half-baked plan that gives no real benefit to the people, and in the process demonstrate his competency level?

This from a man who is being touted as a future deputy prime minister or even prime minister? If ever he attains these positions, we will have plenty of white elephants — taxpayers’ money generously spent which doesn’t deliver real benefits to the people!

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz’s Budget presentation is another example. The fact that the Budget puts cash in the hands of the people in the current economic crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic is not an issue. The government is expected to do that in a lockdown such as this. All the governments of the world do the same.

What is disconcerting is the manner in which Zafrul sought passage of the Budget in the Dewan Rakyat. He appealed to the MPs to heed the advice of the Agong and pass the Budget.  Instead, shouldn’t he have appealed to the MPs to vote for the Budget based on its strengths? The fact that he didn’t do that reveals his lack of confidence in his own Budget and he invoked the authority of the Agong.

Does he not know that the Dewan Rakyat is the supreme lawmaking body in the country and that MPs are free to vote in any way they believe is best on behalf of the people?

The Budget has received many criticisms and these have been well-debated and reported in the media so I won’t go into it except to say that it is more an election Budget rather than a Budget to combat the covid-19 pandemic and aid in economic recovery.

Again, a minister in the PN government compromised the intent and spirit of the constitution in putting a constraint on MPs when he has no constitutional right to do so just so that the Budget is passed, which would mean that the government would not fall.

It’s the same lack of confidence Muhyiddin showed in seeking emergency powers from the Agong to postpone the Batu Sapi parliamentary elections. All the parties concerned have announced that they would not be contesting the seat leaving Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) to defend it. Independents may want to contest and submit their applications on nomination day. Even if they did, campaigning would be greatly reduced due to the absence of the main players and SOP can be fully enforced which means the by-election will not create a sudden rise in covid-19 cases as happened in the Sabah elections.

But, Muhyiddin ignored all these facts before him and sought emergency powers for Batu Sapi. What was the real reason for the emergency then? To prevent Warisan from winning the seat so that the opposition has one vote less to reject the Budget? Or, to send a warning to the rebels in coalition partner Umno who have been talking about snap elections should the Budget be defeated?

Again, Muhyiddin has demonstrated a lack of confidence in his own leadership and ability to control his coalition partner, Umno and like Zafrul invoked the authority of the Agong to support him to stay in government. It was a message to Umno that he could call for emergency and avoid snap elections if they voted against him and the Budget is defeated.

So, this is a political game for Muhyiddin to stay in power with the Agong’s help, not the support of the Dewan Rakyat? If the Budget isn’t aimed at controlling the covid-19 pandemic and providing support to sustain businesses until recovery begins, it can be rejected for irrelevance to current times!

MPs know the issues involved and this time they must vote on behalf of the people and uphold parliamentary democracy. They must be ready with an alternative majority coalition should the PN government fall in order to take control of the government swiftly with minimum disruptions.

Whatever majority coalition MPs are forming there are two political parties they must not include, namely Umno and PAS to form the government. Umno members will hold the nation to ransom and create the kind of trouble they are creating now. PAS will keep quiet and wait for the other Malay parties to self-destruct as the latter fight for votes reduced by an increasing number of Malay parties. When that happens PAS will swoop in to fill the vacuum as the stable party and begin its Islamization programme.

Don’t form a coalition with these two parties. Individuals can leave these two parties to join the coalition but keep Umno and PAS out of the government.

I urge the MPs to form a majority coalition, vote against the Budget, and save parliamentary democracy! The people are watching with expectancy!

Happy Deepavalli! Glow in its lights!

This Deepavalli, don’t let the sorry state of Malay-majority-led politics dampen the festive spirit. Sure, we don’t get as much as others in the Budget. Sure our representatives in the Dewan Rakyat are not free to speak and vote on our behalf. Sure this current backdoor government has dismissed the mandate we gave the Pakatan Harapan to govern. Yes, the future looks bleak, but it need not be — for us!

Remember, whatever downward slide we may be heading towards is NOT our doing. That is entirely on the Prihatin Nasional government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Remember, this government was formed solely to have access to funds to bolster up their political base in order to stay in government. So, they keep spoon-feeding their supporters but none of their policies so far indicate a strategy to enable their supporters to survive and develop without government support.

So, they will always be dependent on the government and never learn to fish. But, we can.

Yes, we don’t get much-needed government aid but we have US! Our history and traditions make us the individuals we are today and it is enough for us to move forward.

So, this Deepavalli, let the festive lights light up your soul to help you find the confidence to to carve out a path for success for yourself. The odds may be stacked up against you and aid may come in a trickle. Take whatever help you can get but don’t lose hope and walk around head low.

Enjoy the Festival of Lights. Be refreshed and strengthened and let its lights enable you to see alternatives and the resources within you to help you get ahead.  You will make it because I have confidence in US!

May the Deepavalli lights cast off the gloom and doom and shine on a bright future you can make on your own!

Happy, happy Deepavalli all!



The only option left

Two things are unlikely to happen in the current political scenario. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will not step down and Umno will not quit the Perihatin Nasional (PN) government no matter what.

Muhyiddin won’t resign because its coalition partner Umno will position itself for a comeback and his party Bersatu will have to take a back seat. He won’t want that to happen. Umno, no matter how recklessly destabilising its blustering bullying gets, won’t quit the PN because it’s trying to make a comeback through the backdoor.

Both need to be in the government to have access to funds to put in the hands of the B40 group who form the backbone of the support for both parties. Without funds, support for these parties is not guaranteed.

So, the PN coalition will remain but consider at what future costs. The the covid19 pandemic will be managed, thanks to our excellent Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, with or without the PN government. The sudden spike in cases is being used as an excuse to resort to drastic measures to control an uncontrollable Umno and that makes the PN government a dangerous government because it has demonstrated its willingness to rely on extreme measures to control a situation it can’t manage.

So, will it do the same when people start fighting for dwindling resources?  The economy is going to get worse because of the pandemic. Businesses are downsizing or closing down; people are losing jobs. Government income from taxes will be greatly reduced and with depleting resources the Prime Minister will have less funds to put cash in the hands of the B40 group. More people will be fighting for limited resources and if one group is favoured over the rest, the strain on the people will be greater and who knows how it will explode? If the PN government can not manage the covid 19 third wave peacefully can it manage economically-fuelled racial tensions in the future without relying on extreme action? That’s yet to be seen but are we going to wait until that happens when it might be too late?

There is an option now that is yet to be considered seriously. Restore the GE14 mandate of the people in its entirety, which is a Pakatan Harapan (PH) government composing PKR, DAP, Amamah and Bersatu and its splinter party Pejuang and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and his Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) party with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Prime Minister-designate and with Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Sabah Warisan Parti  in tow as PH-friendly.

I know PH parties are moving on with alternative arrangements but it must respect the mandate of the people in the GE14 and seek to restore the coalition and its composition as elected by the people. Any combination outside of the original PH coalition will not work. Strife and political instability will continue and it will get worse.

To arrest these twin issues which are causing undue strain on the people, the unelected PN government must be made to face the due processes of parliamentary democracy. No elected MP must tolerate an unelected government and must take steps to restore the mandate of the people. But, how?

My suggestion is the GE14 PH original coalition. This is the only choice of a coalition left. Send out feelers to recoup. The parties concerned must be willing to set aside personal feelings for the good of the nation. Tun, Muhyiddin, Anwar, Azmin, eat humble pie and work together.

Sit together and have a pow wow. Thrash out the outstanding issues but with professional courtesy without shouting at each other, especially to Tun. It’s not in our culture, whether Indian, Malay, Chinese or ethnic Sabahan or Sarawakian to be rude to our elders. Maintain professionalism but talk and iron things out, personal feelings aside.

If the PN government is defeated by a vote of no confidence in the Dewan Rakyat next week, it will make it easier for PH to form a majority coalition if it approaches Muhyiddin to join it again. If the no-confidence vote is not called then the MPs vote of PN’s Budget must show respect for the people’s mandate. It would be a betrayal of the people’s  trust and a grossly irresponsible act if elected MPs pass a Budget and put taxpayers’ money in the hands of a government these taxpayers didn’t elect.

If the Budget is rejected, Muhyiddin has to resign and again, PH, as the next coalition with a majority should reach out to Bersatu to join it. Umno and PAS will go back to the Opposition but individual members are free to join PH parties.

Should this suggestion work out and Tun returns as PM — maximum until the next election — I hope there will be ministers in the Cabinet who will advise him NOT to sound like US President Donald Trump in his comments on foreign affairs or race issues. With regard to his latest outbursts at French President Emmanuel Macron, let him know that belligerent bravado does not help the Muslim world; respectful engagement does.

My suggestion of reuniting the GE14 PH coalition is put forward as a solution to continuing political instability and future strife. It is the only workable solution left, in my opinion, and, perhaps, the only solution.