All posts by Gertrude

About Gertrude

I am a little left of centre 21st Century person. What all that means you'll discover as you read my blog!

Muhyiddin’s delay plays into Umno’s hands

It’s obvious that Umno’s tactics to withdraw support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition is to force the resignation of PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin and pave the way for it to set itself up as a minority government.

If Muhyiddin resigns now, since we are still under emergency, the Agong can appoint Umno as a minority government — since no one candidate for the premiership can claim a majority now — in the same way Muhyiddin got himself and the PN Cabinet sworn in as the appointed government on March 1 last year .

By right such an appointment should face a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat but if Muhyiddin didn’t face it, it is doubtful Umno would.

Muhyiddin has announced that a vote of confidence would be introduced at the parliamentary session beginning on Sept 7. However, it is reported that the Agong has advised that the vote be brought forward but Muhyiddin appears NOT to be complying.

It is hard to fathom Muhyiddin’s reason or reasons for not bringing forward a no-confidence vote. If it were just a contest of wills, it would be immature and unprofessional of Muhyiddin to go head on against the Agong’s advice because it would make it difficult for him to continue working with the one person who installed him and his gang as the government in the first place. Now it would seem as if Muhyiddin is changing the rules in order to remain in government.

Coupled with the fact that he does not have a proven majority, both reasons give the Agong ample room to set up a new administration, which, likely, will favour Umno as it is the largest Malay-based party and more closely aligned with the royal institution than the other Malay parties. This could result with the current crop of Umno leaders facing criminal charges in court to return to helm a minority government after royal pardons.

Another possibility is that Muhyiddin may be delaying in order to call for snap elections. That — like Umno forming a minority government — should never be allowed to happen. If the July 26-Aug 2 special parliamentary session was postponed on account of the covid-19, why is a snap election permissible? Self-serving twisted logic!

On the other hand, if Muhyiddin heeded the Agong’s advice and called for an earlier special parliamentary session for the specific purpose of facing a no-confidence vote, the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat will decide who is to be the next prime minister with a majority or whether they will support a minority government.

At the same time, it would spare the Agong the embarrassing possibility of having his address rejected by the MPs at the Sept 7 session which the suspicious MPs may decide to do to preempt the PN from deciding NOT to go ahead with a no-confidence vote since the MPs had not rejected the Agong’s address. Judging from its actions so far, the PN is not above such sneakiness.

All things considered, bringing forward the date for a no-confidence vote in Parliament is the smartest solution to the current political impasse. The MPs will first vote for or against the PN. If the vote goes against the PN coalition, the govt falls and the task begins to choose the next legitimate administration.

If Muhyiddin does not bring forward the date for a no-confidence vote against him, he will be forcing the Agong’s hand, and the delay may end up with Umno being appointed as a minority government and Muhyiddin can thank himself for that.

Show your courage, call for a confidence vote now

For the first time since he seized power in February last year, Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin made the correct constitutional decision to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Even so, he fumbled and undermined his own decision by delaying the vote by a month.

The legitimacy of the government is of urgent national importance. Any prime minister or MP worth his/her salt would immediately call for a vote in the Dewan Rakyat to test his/her support, especially when a large partner in the incumbent coalition claims that more than 11 MPs in its party, namely Umno in this case, have withdrawn their support for Muhyiddin.

PN is said to have a maximum of 110 votes in its favour in the Dewan Rakyat. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi submitted a list of 11 names of those who no longer support Muhyiddin to the Agong, of which eight names are confirmed. So, how can Muhyiddin claim he has a majority?

At this point whatever numbers Zahid or Muhyiddin claims to have are just that — claims. Until these claims are tested in the Dewan Rakyat, they remain unproven and provides no constitutional basis for any party or coalition to claim the right to form a government. So, if Muhyiddin’s PN does not have a majority and he refuses now to prove his claim that he has, what right does he have to remain in government?

He must resign or prove his majority now. He can’t wait. The playing field is level now. Waiting for a month is just a delay tactic to use his incumbency to his advantage and that is giving him unfair advantage. It must not be allowed.

Unfortunately, a precedent has been set — by himself — when in last February he got himself and his cohorts sworn in to form the government although his majority was in question. He failed to prove his majority by facing a no-confidence vote in Parliament.

He’s doing the same thing again. Remaining in government without constitutional authority.

Muhyiddin needs to understand that he came to power on the graces of the Agong — not by the constitutional authority vested on the Dewan Rakyat. Since he is using the authority of the Agong to govern, he is obligated to listen to what the Agong asks. He can not invoke his constitutional authority now when he never got it from the Dewan Rakyat until December last year when the Budget was passed giving him legitimacy.

Now his legitimacy is in question again because his majority is in question. The Agong has wisely advised that a special parliamentary session be called to discuss the emergency ordinances. Muhyiddin fails to heed the Agong and holds a Q & A session in the Dewan Rakyat with no mention of the emergency ordinances except to announce that they have been revoked. Then he postpones the last day of the meeting.

According to the news portal, Sarawak Report, the Agong advised Muhyiddin to resign three times in their last pre-Cabinet meeting but the latter said he will face a no-confidence vote to prove his majority. We don’t know if it was agreed that the no-confidence vote will be in September or that it was understood that it would be held sooner.

The postponed special parliamentary session can be easily recalled for a vote of confidence in a matter of days. Why is Muhyiddin delaying? If he has learnt from his mistake and want to correct it by following the constitution, he must call for a Dewan Rakyat sitting immediately not resort to delaying tactics to gain an advantage.

Does he not know that delaying proving a ruling coalition’s majority, and subsequently its right to govern, will only create more political and economic uncertainties as it allows for intense “frog jumping” and keeps the economy from moving forward?

The FBM KLCI remains jittery and in the doldrums unable to rise up despite Muhyiddin’s public statements. Covid 19 deaths keep breaking daily records, yet Muhyiddin asks if a change of government is good for the nation and if it will affect the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

Anyone looking at the statistics will say, a change of government is the best option. A change of administration will only cause some problems with the national vaccination programme but with good leadership that can be overcome quickly. As for the NRP, what of it? We have not seen any evidence of it. No setback there and no other aspect of government will be affected because the government is running rudderless. Instead, I suspect, there will be all-around relief!

Besides, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s National Recovery Council under his strong and experienced leadership will do a much better job than what we are seeing now and it will draw able people from across the board.

An immediate no-confidence vote is essential for political stability and for the PN to justify its right to remain in government. If PN truly has a majority as it claims, why doesn’t it prove it with a no-confidence vote? Since February last year, PN has been claiming it has a majority but refuses to prove it. Instead, it resorted to luring MPs over and indebting them to Muhyiddin.

A no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat, on the other hand, will free MPs to vote according to their conscience despite all the allurements. That will be the true test of whether Muhyiddin has the support he claims he has. The more important question is whether he has the courage to face the truth about the alleged support for him and the legitimacy of his coalition.

What a mess! But, there’s a way out

In a statement today, Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that it was better for Umno to quit the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition and to work towards forming an interim government. Yesterday, it was reported that former prime minister and Umno adviser Najib Razak said that Umno supports the PN coalition but not PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin.

Their statements imply that Umno is still with the PN-lead coalition. That seems to have been assumed but it is an incorrect position. Umno is NOT a member of the PN. PN members are Bersatu — Muhyiddin’s minority party that leads the coalition — and PAS. All the other parties in the PN-led coalition such as Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Parti Bersatu Sabah, STAR, MIC and MCA and Umno are partners with the PN in the PN-led coalition.

The difference is significant. A member party of a coalition can withdraw its support for the incumbent PM yet not leave the coalition unless it chooses to. That party remains in the coalition and at its top-level meeting expresses its withdrawal of support for the incumbent PM and negotiates for a replacement. The constitution of the coalition must state the rules and guidelines for such a possibility.

A partner in a coalition, on the other hand, does not come under the rules of the coalition for members. It’s a partner — not a member. If a party that is a partner in a coalition withdraws support for the incumbent PM, it removes itself from that coalition. A partner in a coalition can not say it is withdrawing support for the incumbent PM but allows its members to remain in the coalition in support of the PM. That doesn’t make sense. It is an absurd position.

When a party that is a partner in a coalition withdraws its support for the incumbent PM it is equivalent to withdrawing support for the government the PM leads. That party automatically is out of the coalition. So, whether you say you no longer support the PM or the government it leads, it is the same.

On July 8, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that Umno was withdrawing its support for Muhyiddin and called on the latter to resign, which means the Cabinet would resign, which means the PN-led government would fall. That, in effect, means withdrawing its support for the PN-led government, which means the PN-led government fell on July 8.

The PN-led government, however, continued in government as if Umno’s withdrawal meant nothing at all, since, after all, Attorney General Idrus Harun said it was “not clear” if PN had lost its majority as a majority is not determined by a party statement.

Does Idrus know how coalition politics work? How else can a party that is a partner in a coalition express its withdrawal of support if not by a statement? If the government is doubtful, then it should call for a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. It doesn’t do that but continues as if the largest partner in its coalition didn’t resign.

This doesn’t make sense. It just isn’t done, unless maybe in a banana republic!

It doesn’t make it any easier that the nine Umno MPs in the PN Cabinet openly defied their president to show that they support Muhyiddin. They are not PN members. It’s puzzling why Zahid doesn’t discipline them.

Zahid and the nine Umno MPs must realise that they can take over the leadership of the PN-led government only if the PN and all partners in the coalition agree to it. Zahid will fail because he has pulled his party Umno out of the PN-led coalition. The nine MPs will also fail because they can’t represent their party which is no longer in the same coalition; they can only represent themselves. It’s doubtful either will get majority support.

The fact is that Umno has left the PN-led coalition. That means Muhyiddin has lost its majority — since July 8. It remains in government illegitimately and revoking the emergency ordinances without announcing it and conducting a Dewan Rakyat session where MPs are powerless to debate and vote on annulling or accepting the emergency ordinances are a cowardly cover-up to not prove its majority.

The Agong has publicly rebuked the PN-led government for not keeping to the word given to him about conducting a Dewan Rakyat session to debate and vote on the emergency ordinances. He has declared that he has not assented to the revocation of the emergency ordinances.

Muhyiddin said he did advise the Agong about the revocation through a letter but in defence of himself against the Agong’s public rebuke, he invoked Article 40 (1) of the federal constitution which states that the Agong acts on the advice of the prime minister.

But wasn’t the special Dewan Rakyat called specifically to debate and accept or annul the emergency ordinances? That was circumvented by the July 21 revocation of the ordinances.

So, now, Muhyiddin is not only without a majority and continuing in government despite it, but he has apparently antagonised the Agong, the very person who swore him and his cohorts into government.

By right, he should resign but it is doubtful that he would. The only solution to move forward is NOT an interim government. It will not have the support of the majority of the MPs and the chaotic politicking will continue thwarting attempts to control the covid 19 pandemic quickly and effectively. Besides, Muhyiddin will preempt it.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal of a National Recovery Council is the solution and a chance for a way out and a reset. Hopefully, a majority of MPs will rally behind him and make a representation to the Agong that they would be supportive of that endeavour. Since we are still under emergency, the Agong can do it and save the day.

PN’s untenable position

So, why are the nine Umno MPs still in the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition? Why is coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin accommodating them and keeping them in the Cabinet? Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has already withdrawn Umno’s support for Muhyiddin so why is the latter still keeping these rebellious MPs in his Cabinet?

Very openly he is baiting them with government positions to ensure he has the numbers to remain in government. At the same time Zahid is not disciplining his errant MPs which means there might be behind-the-scenes haggling going on for Umno to remain in PN for some gains advantageous to the Zahid faction in Umno. Watch their court cases; see what happens there.

All this is indisciplined, chaotic Malay politics and to be expected but is it ethical of Muhyiddin to use government positions and resources to play Malay politics? Isn’t that an abuse of power and position?

In Malaysia, a national leader must know there is a boundary between using the government to serve the people and using it to serve his or her own personal agenda. If in your eyes the boundary is blurred, then you are too simple-minded to distinguish between what is right and wrong and will do wrong without batting an eyelid resulting in the kind of problems we have been witnessing since the Sheraton moves.

It is understandable that Muhyiddin wants PN to have a majority. But, it is totally unacceptable that without a majority he unconstitutionally clings to the government to achieve it. He should resign and seek to obtain a PN majority outside of government, then stand for election and win it. Then he has the right to govern.

It is reprehensible that he is using government positions and resources to gain that majority. That is unethical and contravenes the constitution and must not be tolerated.

Malay politicians need to understand that only those who can’t compete according to the rules or are afraid to compete according to the rules for fear of losing, cheat and resort to political chicanery and treachery to win.

That is the picture the PN is painting of its politicians. That’s how the discerning public, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian or East Malaysian perceives PN politicians: unable to fight fair according to the rules. That is the reason the PN doesn’t have the support of the more knowledgeable urban Malays and non-Malays.

In an interview published today in Malaysiakini, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said that the PN reflects a Malay-based coalition and that the people (Malay majority) are comfortable with Muhyiddin. That may be true — only because they don’t know any better. Even if the PN did wrong they would not know what was going on. If they did, they may take to the streets. The politically more astute urban Malays and non-Malays do not trust Muhyiddin. We know what he’s up to. The PN can fool their supporters but it can’t fool us.

Their supporters may not realise it, but their PN leaders have without a qualm used their trust to set themselves up in a backdoor government and what have the people gained from it? They are still struggling to put food on the table. Worst still, the people are experiencing a runaway pandemic with 15,573 active cases and 144 deaths reported today despite the so-called “government effort”. Apart from giving money what has the PN done to stimulate economic recovery and control the pandemic?

Businesses are closing down every day. Jobs are scarce. Now, we don’t know if we have been genuinely vaccinated or just jabbed with empty syringes! Doesn’t this Malay-majority coalition know its people well enough to know that under stress they lose it and don’t know what they do, and proactively prevent it from happening? Is the PN governing or simply keeping everything running — even if badly — so that they can continue using government positions and resources to prop itself up?

Is that the type of Malay-majority leadership we want? One that fails to set the example of following the constitution?

Even with the special parliamentary session beginning next Monday, we don’t know what to expect. Already the MPs are complaining that the Dewan Rakyat sitting starting on July 26 does not follow standing orders and is only a series of lectures by ministers. Should by a twist of fate a vote of no confidence is introduced and PN loses, will PN continue to stay on in government with the Attorney-General making another statement that it is “not clear” that the session was legitimate?

The PN does not play by the rules so we have no reason to believe it would abide by the result of a no-confidence vote.

Contrary to Zuraida’s opinion that now is a bad time to oust Muhyiddin, it is the best time. If he remains in government Parliament will be dragged out to give him time to use the advantage of incumbency to work out a deal with one or the other of the factions in Umno so that he gets the majority to pass the Budget to get more money to spend to ensure voter support in the event of a general election.

He may think that with expedited vaccination in the Klang Valley the pandemic will be controlled and elections can be called. It will not. The virus will continue spreading and it would just be a matter of time before it spreads beyond the Klang Valley if aggressive testing, contact tracing and vaccination do not continue nationwide.

A change of administration now will preempt Muhyiddin from making deals in favour of a defeated party like Umno by using government positions and influencing institutions, ensure control of the pandemic and facilitate economic recovery.

That can only be good for the nation. No party or person who shows no proof of majority should be allowed to continue to sit in government. It is immoral and undemocratic.

The case for a National Recovery Council

It is apparent to all Malaysians and the world that the Umno Members of Parliament staying put in the Prihatin Nasional(PN)-led coalition are doing so in open defiance of their party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who announced last week that Umno was withdrawing its support for PN head Muhyiddin Yassin.

Party members have the right to disagree with their leaders but is it ethical of them to use their ministerial positions in the Cabinet to do so? Isn’t it abuse of position? If they want to defy their president that is party politics and should be dealt with in the party not outside the party, and definitely not by using their Cabinet positions to do so. As it is, Zahid is now in the position to discipline his rebellious MPs. And, I hope he does.

It seems Umno MP Ismail Sabri Yaakub had told Zahid of his pending appointment to the DPM’s post by Muhyiddin a day before Zahid announced Umno’s withrawal from the PN-led coalition. But was this appointment made in consultation with Sabri’s party president? Shouldn’t the coalition leader consult with his partner party’s head before making such an important appointment? We don’t know if Muhyuiddin did. But, isn’t that the protocol? Was it followed?

If it wasn’t followed, it would be a slap to Zahid and he, understandably, had a reason to not want to support Muhyiddin.

Whatever the real reasons that prompted Zahid to act, the fact is he has severed support for Muhyddin, which means PN no longer has a majority. So, why is it still governing? Why are its MPs oblivious to the fact that they are supporting a coalition that has lost its majority and that that is unconstitutional? Why are they in cahoots with PN when they fully know it is unconstitutional?

The fact that the nine Umno MPs have pledged their support for Muhyiddin does not mean that the latter has a majority. Umno’s 38 MPs are no longer with the PN. The nine, including the Umno DPM, are no longer representing their party. They are in the PN Cabinet in their individual capacities and supporting an unelected and unconstitutional minority government.

Attorney-General Idrus Harun has gone to the PN’s defence by saying that the federal constitution says only MPs in a Dewan Rakyat session can determine if a prime minister has the support of the majority and majority support is not determined “through a statement by a political party or any political party leader”.

By his own admission he has disqualified the PN because PN had claimed through its statements by PN leader Muhuyiddin that it had a majority when it offered itself as the next government when the Pakatan Harapan government fell in February last year. Till this day PN has failed to prove its majority fully aware that the federal constitution demands it and yet Idrus continues to support it and work for it.

Everyone one in the PN-led coalition knows they are in an unconstitutional government but not one will stand up for the federal constitution.

That is the trademark of the PN leadership: constitutional or not is immaterial but at all cost use the advantage of incumbency to retain power.

That being the mentality of the PN, can anyone in his or her rightful mind expect it to adhere to the federal constitution? We can scream and shout and pull a tantrum but they will remain unmoved, giving their regular press conferences and national addresses that bring no real benefits to the people.

Despite billions of ringgit worth of stimulus packages, emergency and MCOs and CMCOs and EMCOs, the pandemic isn’t contained. The pandemic is simply running its own course, unmitigated by government efforts. It will end when it ends.

Anyone will tell you that the reason why we are having high figures is due to late aggressive testing, contact tracing and vaccination which should have started much earlier like in the second half of last year. It didn’t happen then but started several months ago by which time the virus had spread, unchecked. We are seeing the results now.

But the PN will not assume responsibility for its inability to contain it, giving all sorts of explanations to justify its lack of skills and ability — “only God can stop it”! But New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore succeeded without putting the blame on God!

These are the kind of people in the PN.

If they were committed to parliamentary democracy, they would have facilitated a confidence or no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat a long time ago and proven their majority. If they couldn’t get the majority they would have resigned.

By now, the people, and especially the MPs, must know that the PN is not committed to parliamentary democracy. They have made a mockery of Parliament, the special parliamentary session beginning on July 26 is a case in point. The session is a briefing session without motions and debates, MPs say.

The PN will do everything it can NOT to prove its majority but to remain in power. MPs need to realise that insisting on adherence to the federal constitution will just fall on deaf ears.

You have to play the game the way they play it. Bypass them just as they bypassed Parliament. Go straight to the Agong.

That is the reason why I believe former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal for a National Recovery Council is the best way to preempt the PN now. PN feels strong because it knows the majority of MPs are against it.

But, if the majority of MPs back Tun’s proposal especially now that he has said he would be willing to leave Pejuang, the party he founded and of which he is chairman, if he is accepted to chair the council as an apolitical organisation, the Agong may consider it.

If the Agong institutes it, PN will be ousted. When the council has achieved its aim of containing the covid 19 pandemic, it can end and we revert to parliamentary democracy.

It is the only way out now. Otherwise, this is going to be dragged out, giving Muhyiddin time to form a new alliance with Umno when the latter resolves its leadership tussle in due time.

Think carefully. Don’t dismiss the National Recovery Council. It’s an option that will bring parliamentary democracy back in the near future. With Muhyiddin, it will be the end of parliamentary democracy as we know it.

AG, please advise to resolve

The largest party in the Prihatin Nasional coalition, Umno, withdraws its support from the coalition but Attorney General Idrus Harun says that PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin and his Cabinet will continue to exercise their executive powers because there are no “clear facts” to show that he has lost his majority.

Idrus said the federal constitution says only MPs in a Dewan Rakyat session can determine if a prime minister has the support of the majority and majority support is not determined “through a statement by a political party or any political party leader”. He said this in a statement released following Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s declaration to withdraw support for Muhyiddin as prime minister.

Idrus’s explanation may be the correct interpretation of the constitution but how come it was not rightly followed when PN seized control of the government in February last year? Muhyiddin claimed majority support without getting that support from MPs at a Dewan Rakyat session and marched to the Agong’s palace and got himself and the PN sworn in as the government.

By Idrus’ own interpretation of Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution which he quoted, it would mean that Muhyiddin’s claim of majority support following the Sheraton moves is also “not clear” and unproven — as pointed out by both former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan — and yet he was sworn in to lead the government.

Idrus should stop playing politics and give the proper advice to Muhyiddin to resolve the issue of legitimacy which is the only reason why the current climate of politicking is going on overdrive. Perhaps, a mistake was made in the swearing in of the PN leadership last year. If a mistake was made it should be corrected not legitimised with everyone pretending it is business as usual, like what is happening now.

Zahid withdrew support for PN but Umno MPs are continuing to serve with the PN. Umno now clarfies that it had withdrawn its support for Muhyiddin — not for PN– and its MPs can continue to work with the PN. There is also talk that Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs, which includes Umno MPs, have signed a statement declaring their support for Muyhiddin.

Well, by Idrus’ interpretation of the federal constitution, signed statements by MPs are invalid. MPs’ support must be proven in the Dewan Rakyat, which means the BN MPs statement of support will also make it “not clear” if Muhyhiddin has majority support.

A large party like Umno has left the PN. It just means PN has lost its majority but it must be tested in the Dewan Rakyat.

The special parliamentary session starting on July 26, perhaps, may provide opportunities to test the support for the PN coalition in government. However, that might pose other problems as currently no one political party has majority support which means even a no-confidence or confidence vote will prove futile since a new coalition may not emerge.

It’s no wonder that political parties are resorting to political deal-making over constitutional alternatives and the former will create more unnecessary political stress.

As AG, Idrus should demonstrate a clear commitment to the federal constitution and advise Muhyiddin on the best course of action to prove his legitimacy in the Dewan Rakyat and to step down if he fails to command the majority support of MPs. He needs to give not just Muhyiddin but the Agong the constitutional options available to both that would resolve the current political impasse. It should include the use of the Agong’s discretion if all else fails.

A good suggestion to put forward to both the Agong and Muhyiddin is Dr Mahathir’s suggestion to form a national recovery council. It will eliminate avaricious politicking and the immediate urgent need of managing the covid 19 pandemic will take precedence over chaotic power-grabbing politics.

Perhaps, that is what Idrus should suggest to Muhyiddin and the Agong. It would take us out of the current cauldron of all sorts of interpretation of constitutional legitimacy and focus on national recovery.

Our fortunes will turn if …

I like Zunar’s latest cartoon in Malaysiakini. He draws two flights of steps on either side of the frame. On the left is Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin midway on the steps. On the right is the covid 19 virus also midway on the steps but with an admonishing finger at Muhyiddin and the quote written beneath: “Kalau lu tak turun, wa tak turun!” (If you don’t come down, I won’t come down!)

Zunar’s cartoon graphically says what I have always suspected but never articulated until now. Now is a good time to say it because after more than one year of lockdown we are worse off now after PN seized control of the government in February last year than before.

The poor are getting poorer. Businesses are shutting down. More people are getting mental illnesses. The Covid 19 death count remains high. People are frustrated by the continuation of an ineffective Movement Control Order. These are the facts and are daily reported in the media but the PN remains unmovable occupying a government without proving its majority.

Now, it is yet to convene a special session of Parliament before the Aug 1 deadline for the end of the emergency. Instead, PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin is hospitalised for diarrhoea and cancelled his weekly meeting with the Agong before the Wednesday Cabinet meeting. Is he really sick or is it another of his political ploys to remain in government?

The management of the pandemic has set this nation backwards, thanks to a leadership that couldn’t maintain our relatively high standing among other nations. Malaysia’s placing in the Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking in June this year is at 51 out of 53 countries ranked for progress in reopening amid the Covid-19 pandemic. We are only ahead of the Philippines and Argentina.

The World Bank on June 23 projected Malaysia’s economic growth at 4.5 % this year compared to Bank Negara Malaysia’s projected forecast of between 6 and 7%. Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had stated on June 1 that the forecast could be lowered.

White flags are going up everywhere signalling a cry for basic essentials in a sign that the white flag movement is gaining momentum. The movement urges people to fly a white flag at their homes if they want basic essentials.

Suicide rates are going up. In a June 29 report, news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) quoted health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah as saying that the 336 cases of suicides in the first three months of this year was more than half of what was reported throughout 2020. In other words, there was an average of four suicides every day in the first three months of the year.

There were 84 Covid 19 deaths yesterday bringing the total death tally to 5,254 and 6,988 new cases. As of November last year, 30,000 businesses had shut down. Daily, we hear of businesses shutting down.

Just two years ago we were said to be on track to attain developed status but from the way the PN managed the pandemic we now have to stretch out our hands to get free vaccines from Japan and the US. We can’t afford to buy our own vaccines. We have become a charity case.

In other words, the PN has failed to lead Malaysia to help ourselves. We may not have hit rock bottom but we are only a short distance away.

That makes it clear that the day the PN coalition steps down from government, our fortunes will begin to change for the better. We’ll have a rightfully elected government which will have the support of the people to facilitate health and economic recovery.

Nearly at the bottom, we can only get better.

Bring down the covid 19 death tally, not play politics

I am quite stupefied at the seeming apathy and lack of ability of the “caring” Prihatin Nasional (PN) leadership in arresting the sudden steep rise in covid 19 deaths from a total of about 300 in March to more than 4,700 as of yesterday. The daily death figures keep vacillating from 60 to sometimes over 100 but the PN leadership doesn’t draw much attention to it.

On the number of times I have heard the daily covid 19 updates over the radio on the channel I turn on, there was no mention of the covid 19 death tally. Active and recovered cases are mentioned but the daily death tally is omitted.

I have no idea if all the radio stations omit the daily covid 19 death figure or if the figure was unavailable at the time of the news broadcast. Radio listeners, however, are mostly in the rural and semi-rural areas which form the backbone of PN’s voter base and I wonder if the daily covid 19 death tally, which is the best reflection of the leadership’s ability in controlling the pandemic, is not publicized in these areas. If it were, I wonder if the people there would be as docile as they are now and whether they would continue to support the PN.

The covid 19 death tally is announced by the English-speaking and urban-based media but apparently not over radio, at least not on the channel I listened to. Perhaps, the PN coalition just doesn’t want to scare off their voter base. But, isn’t giving the people correct information a mark of good government?

Right now we don’t know if the people are getting all the correct data and not just some.

In my mind, the daily death tally is key in assessing the performance of the PN coalition in effectively managing the pandemic. It should hit the panic button and motivate the leadership to go into crisis mode to come up with counter-strategies. What we see, instead, is a laissez faire attitude in managing this health crisis that is claiming more lives with every passing day.

Instead, the PN is more interested in giving jobs to Umno members to ensure their support in the event of a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat or a vote to pass the Budget. Why do we want a leadership that gives priority to staying in power over controlling the covid 19 pandemic?

In all clear conscience, should such a leadership remain in power? If it can not arrest the death toll, it must step down — soon, so that a better leadership can take over and deliver what it couldn’t.

We will be risking our lives to covid 19 if the PN is allowed to lead this country in the current crisis. PN may think that accelerating the vaccination rate may solve the problem. That is a short-sighted solution because vaccinated individuals can be carriers and spread the virus to those not vaccinated. Since we just started expediting vaccination, there are still millions not vaccinated and they are all at risk of getting covid 19.

This crisis demands expert attention and swift solutions and the question on everyone’s mind is whether PN can deliver or will it continue to play politics and keep the people at risk to covid 19?

Apparently, this pandemic is going to be with us for a long time. In a recent Reuters report, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that those vaccinated, especially the elderly, will need booster shots annually for protection against variants. Is the PN coalition ready to manage the covid 19 pandemic in the long haul? Can it generate enough funds to pay for vaccines annually? Does it have the ability to control future outbreaks or prevent them from happening so that economic recovery can take place unobstructed?

If the PN was unable to be proactive and control the pandemic so that the new surge of cases did not result in such a suddenly large number of deaths, it is doubtful it can lead this country safely through this pandemic.

In the current political situation, the solution is a National Operations Council (NOC) to effectively manage the crisis without political interference. If it really cares for the well-being of this nation, PN will step down and let the NOC give full attention to controlling the pandemic and then to facilitate economic recovery.

The political temperature will come drastically down and we give top priority to addressing the covid 19 pandemic. It’s as simple as that. One need not be an expert to figure that out.

Tun’s NOC idea may be the much-needed solution

I have changed my mind. In my last post I said reconvening Parliament was a more urgently needed democratic priority than former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s idea of a National Operations Council (NOC) to solve the current political impasse. I now strongly believe that Tun’s plan may work and bring about the resolution all of us want.

There is only one reason — I emphasize “one” — why I believe that the NOC will solve the current political problem. Of all the criticisms levelled at him and the suggestions made in public debates, Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition leader Muhyiddin Yasin reacted only to one — Tun’s NOC plan. All others he has ignored. That suggests that Muhyiddin regards the NOC as a threat to his and PN’s survival. He dismissed it immediately through his principal private secretary, Marzuki Mohamad, who posted on Facebook why the NOC was “not suitable” to fight the covid 19 pandemic and revive the economy.

That reaction by Muhyiddin says that he sees the NOC as the only threat to PN’s survival. He was threatened enough to react to it. The reason should be obvious. The Agong alone can install the NOC and the unofficial prime minister will be able to do nothing about it.

The reconvening of Parliament, however, is in Muhyiddin’s hands. He can abide by the Agong’s call to reconvene Parliament but he can take his time about it. That’s the strategy he is employing now to prolong his stay in government.

Reconvening Parliament is no threat to him for two reasons. Firstly, he can push any no- confidence vote to the bottom of the agenda and it will not see the light of day. He wins; PN remains in government. Secondly, no group of MPs can form a majority coalition which means even if there’s a vote on his Budget, it will be passed. He wins; PN remains in government.

But a NOC? He has no control over! If it is set up, Muhyiddin and PN must step down. The Agong can dismiss him and his Cabinet as summarily as they were installed.

It would be a very good idea for PKR, the DAP, Amanah and Warisan to reach out to Tun to work with him on the NOC proposal and to present a united stand on managing the covid 19 pandemic through the NOC to the Agong. Other party members who are willing to forget about party affiliations can join in the effort. The NOC’s brief must be specific: To manage the covid 19 pandemic and facilitate economic recovery.

The NOC must also have an expiry date — six to eight months — with the possibility of an extension. The expiry date must not go beyond the date for the next general election, on or before 16 September 2023. If the pandemic is controlled, snap elections can be called before that or the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Plus government minus Bersatu — because it betrayed the PH — or any other temporary form of government can be installed by the Agong to govern until the next elections.

The terms of reference must be clearly spelt out to everyone’s satisfaction, even with regard to the prime minister’s candidacy. Tun has declared he doesn’t want to be PM again so, Anwar may get his chance finally.

Tun may be open to work with his former PH partners if Anwar abandons plans to form an alliance with the court cluster in Umno. It would be better for PKR because PKR will lose much support if it allies itself with the court cluster in Umno.

Muhyiddin is hoping that Selangor’s daily high number of active cases will come down to justify exiting his covid 19 plan on the basis that it worked. That belies the reality. Selangor is the only state that is implementing aggressive testing so naturally the figures will be high. Because it started earlier, its figures may eventually drop, by Muhyiddin’s estimation in September so that he can call for Parliament then to pass the Budget. Again, that’s his strategy to prolong his stay in power.

However, it is not known if all the other states are also aggressively testing for covid 19 cases to flush out the spreaders and isolate them. If they are not, and Muhyiddin exits the covid 19 plan, the pandemic would not be controlled. There may be future breakouts which will have to be dealt with with more MCOs which will disrupt the economy. In other words, Muhyiddin’s strategy is to extend PN’s tenure in government without resolving the covid 19 crisis and that will take this nation downhill.

That is the most logical and powerful justification for a NOC, which Tun has now renamed as the National Rehabilitative Council. Any policy to control the covid 19 pandemic must involve nationwide aggressive testing, contact tracing and supportive hospital care, vaccination and cooperation from both the public and private sectors. The figures will be initially high but as testing eventually eases, the figures will drop, including the death tally.

If the NOC succeeds — and it can — the NOC members would prove to the people that they have their interests at heart and that will work in their favour in a general election.

There is no time to lose. The former PH Plus partners and others need to come together to present a strong case to the Agong to set up Tun’s National Rehabilitative Council as a well-thought of concerted joint effort in bringing the covid 19 pandemic under control. They should not miss this opportunity.

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 chicken.

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 bridge.

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.