Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pro-Malay rhetoric, pls tamp it down

In the Dewan Rakyat this week, PAS president Hadi Awang issued a veiled threat that the current government should not point fingers at the Opposition should it collapse. Perhaps it was unintentional and said in the heat of the moment, but the possibility of a change of government merits attention.

In a raving rant against the federal government, Hadi (PN-Marang) said that should the government fall it would be because of its own inadequacy and weaknesses due to “the roof leaking, the doors are left ajar, and the walls are crumbling”.

What that meant nobody knows as he gave no indication of how a collapse would happen although, a few hours later, at a dialogue session organised by a book publisher, Hadi predicted that the Anwar Ibrahim-led government’s collapse was imminent.

By now, most discerning Malaysians dismiss Hadi’s statements as reflective of anachronistic Islam which most people can’t relate to except for his ardent followers who gave his party 42 seats in the Dewan Rakyat and which is a very good reason why a possible change of government should be taken seriously.

A new government can only be formed if GPS and GRS with 23 and 6 parliamentary seats respectively leave the unity government and join the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN), which has 72 seats, which only gives it a total of 101 seats, and is insufficient to form a majority government. With PAS the dominant partner in PN, it is unlikely that the multi-religious GPS and GRS would join PN.

If there’s any truth in Hadi’s prediction, it can only imply that other MPs from other parties in the government will defect.

Such a possibility may be hatching behind the scenes and while it is not apparent, Hadi’s prediction signals discontent among the Malay-majority Opposition MPs and that should be taken note of.

The current so-called “unity” government has a comfortable two-thirds majority with 146 seats. But, a major flaw in this government is that it excludes the majority representation of the major race in the country, the Malays. For the first time in Malaysia’s short history, the Malays have lost their majority control of the government and are now in opposition.

While the majority of the Cabinet is made up of Malay ministers, statistics are lacking to prove that they represent the majority of Malays in the country. The only figure that seems undisputed is that 54% of the Malay vote went to PN in the last general election (GE15) and that is represented in the Opposition.

Malay discontent is understandable. And it may express itself by posturing and manoeuvring to reinstate the Malay majority in government and that is their right to do so. If the people want a change of government so that they are better represented in government that is their democratic right and should not be denied — as long as a change is effected constitutionally and not illegitimately like what Bersatu did with PAS’ and Umno’s help in 2020 and Umno did to collapse the PN government in 2021.

Any change of government by the will of the majority must be respected as long as it is done constitutionally. There’s no point in invoking the words of the constitutional monarch; in a parliamentary democracy, the will of the people supersedes. When a majority is formed, the constitutional monarch simply installs the representative government of the people and affirms their will.

In the current situation, a change of government is unlikely unless government MPs leave their parties triggering by-elections under the Anti-hopping Law and the seats are won by the opposition parties. It may take some time for enough MPs to switch sides and by then it may be time for the next general election.

Meanwhile, though, Malay-based parties can be expected to ride on the narrative that the majority race, the Malays, have lost control of the country and swing to an acutely pro-Malay position as former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has taken when he explained why he decided to join Putra.

Tun, of course, is appealing to Malay sentiments to justify his role in Putra. With all due respect, Tun needs to understand that that same strategy cost his former party, Pejuang, a disastrous outing in two elections, the Johor state elections and GE15.

If Tun plans to win seats for Putra, he will be entering a crowded field in the rural Malay voter base where the voters have clearly shown their preference for PN in GE15. Putra may win a few seats. But, if it differentiates from its competitors by seeking Malay rights while respecting the rights of minorities, it may appeal to those segments of rural Malay voters who are not ultra pro-Malay.

That message may also resonate well with the urban Malay voters who have peacefully co-existed with other races for decades.

Asserting Malay rights is a legitimate concern but turning it into a race issue may backfire on Tun’s efforts. He may need to modulate the pro-Malay rhetoric with a more accommodating stance on minority rights. Malay voters now may be more open to such a message rather than the traditionally alienating pro-Malay rhetoric. One will never know for sure until it is tested.

Malay parties, desiring to take control of the government, need to be careful not to go overboard with the pro-Malay rhetoric. They need non-Malay parties to form a majority government. A Malay-based-others-inclusive strategy is the best bet for a stable political future.


Resignation is a good move

Budget 2023 was retabled at the Dewan Rakyat today as the latter was dissolved before the budget was passed in October last year. In the next couple of days, the experts will discuss its pros and cons. Hopefully, it will not divert attention from the equally significant issue of good governance.

When Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Tasik Gelugor MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan resigned from his post as PN information chief following charges in court for corruption, it was an example of good governance. He was charged in court with two counts of corruption early this week, the first for soliciting a bribe of an unspecified sum and the second for receiving a RM6.96 million bribe related to the Jana Wibawa programme that was instituted when PN president Muhyiddin Yassin was the prime minister.

Wan Saiful has claimed trial to prove his innocence but resigned from his position in his party, Bersatu, which is a partner in PN. A point of note is that the Jana Wibawa programme has been cancelled under Budget 2023. It will be left to be seen if others investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in connection with Jana Wibawa will also face corruption charges in court.

Nevertheless, it is commendable that Wan Saiful chose to resign. Hopefully, it will be an example others will follow.

If MPs hold public office, they too, like Wan Saiful, must resign from their positions. This is the political culture that must be practised by our politicians. Anyone holding public office must resign from their positions if they are charged in court whether for corruption or any other crime or suit. If they are acquitted of or pardoned for all charges, they can return to their positions.

If the person charged is an MP, he/she need not resign as an MP for the duration of the case until found guilty. Whether that MP can continue to represent his/her voters will depend on the decision the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat makes according to the law or the MP’s party makes.

Former prime minister, Najib Razak, remained an MP while his corruption case was going on on the grounds that a person is “innocent until found guilty”. That’s true but it would have been better if he hadn’t in order to ensure good governance. Anyone charged in court will raise doubts about his/her integrity and whether he/she can be trusted with taxpayer’s funds and resources.

Politicians should not force such doubts on voters as voters may react and vote against them. To avoid the risk of losing votes and demonstrating that the MP is worthy of the voters’ trust, it would be better for MPs facing court charges to step down from public office.

Wan Saiful and PN have set a bar for political conduct. Although PN became a government through a coup, without the mandate of the people, it appears as if it is taking measures to correct itself. It’s a good start and if PN MPs continue holding themselves to the highest standards of public service, it can only augur well for the coalition.

The big question now is whether the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led unity government will do the same with regard to its ministers who are facing court charges. Against Wan Saiful’s resignation, Anwar’s unity Cabinet, which includes Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and other Umno MPs facing court charges in court, doesn’t look too good.

PH started off well, whipping up support with its calls for reforms and good governance. Now, in government, while implementing some reforms, it seems to be acting no differently than previous administrations with regard to good governance.

PH needs to be very careful how it conducts itself in government. If it doesn’t, it may lose its pole position as the advocate for reforms and integrity in government as other parties and coalitions take over that role.

Why didn’t Nurul Izzah say ‘No!’

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has appointed five experts to an advisory body to advise him as the finance minister. The team will be led by Petronas adviser Tan Sri Hassan Marican. The others are FVSB executive chairman Datuk Ahmad Fuad Md Ali, Sunway University economics professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng, Universiti Malaya economics professor Datuk Dr Rajah Rasiah and, Sarawak Energy Bhd chairman Datuk Abdul Hamed Sepawi.

It was not stated if the team includes Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah who was appointed as senior finance adviser and has been serving in that capacity since Jan 3 on a pro bono basis (So, are the experts!). So, what then does Nurul do in the finance ministry?

According to Anwar, her duty is to ensure transparency in the administration and to monitor government tender procurement to ensure that they are done in an orderly manner, the New Straits Times reported.

Anwar may be serious about his reason or reasons for Nurul’s appointment but it seems dubious as it raises questions on the need for such an appointment.

Aren’t there staff in the finance ministry already doing the job assigned to Nurul? Will she be duplicating their job or checking on them? Why would she have to do this job which ministry staff should be doing, anyway? Surely, there are senior staff these staff report to to check on them? So, why is Nurul needed to duplicate their duties? Just appoint a finance minister!

Her job is redundant unless there’s an ulterior motive — to dig up dirt. If so, Anwar needs to tread very carefully because he has to contend with the Official Secrets Act. If Nurul is working for the government — even for free — she is subject to the Official Secrets Act and if found having divulged official secrets to the prime minister, she — and the prime minister, too — could be taken to court.

So, Anwar is putting his daughter in a compromising position. Having the ear of her father, she will also put the staff on tenterhooks because they won’t know what feedback will be brought to her father’s attention. Is this creating a positive work environment reflective of a reform-minded prime minister?

By placing a close relative in a position with access to government information and reporting to him, Anwar has blurred the lines between filial loyalty and professional accountability.

It is the same with Dewan Rakyat Speaker Johari Abdul who has denied claims that his son was appointed as a special officer to assist him in Parliament. He went to great lengths to explain that his son Muhammad Iqbal was working for him and is paid out of his own pocket.

If Muhammad Iqbal is not working for the government, then, he shouldn’t use government resources to help his father; he shouldn’t have an office in his father’s office. He can work from anywhere else to help his father but not in the government.

If Nurul’s position in the finance ministry is to help her father and not the government, then she should not have an office in the ministry nor have the authority to access information privy only to government staff.

Even if technically not illegal, family members should not work for their parents in an official capacity in government. Anwar may follow the practice of former US President Donald Trump who appointed his daughter and son-in-law to key positions.

Surely, Anwar is aware that that was one of the factors that led to the loss of support from both his own Republican Party and those who voted for him previously and which led to Trump failing to win a second term as president.

If Anwar continues making indefensible decisions, he, too, risks losing ground support and it may not bode well for his unity government.

It is hard to believe that Nurul is not aware of the issues surrounding her appointment. What is most baffling is that this child of Reformasi who for two decades chanted “corruption and cronyism” alongside her father quietly acquiesced to the latter when put in a similarly compromising position.

She must have her reasons but what is demonstrated is an inability to say “No!” when the situation warranted it, and, as a result, she has disqualified herself from public office. If she can’t say “No!” to her father, can she say “No!” to his supporters who come to her for help? What proof has she demonstrated that she would not be influenced or manipulated?

Has Nurul been infected with the common Malaysian political malaise? Vocal and strident in calling out corruption, cronyism and bad governance and demanding reforms when in the opposition, but when the power of government is within grasp, all such lofty principles and constitutional adherence are thrown out and replaced by gutter-driven political expediency or convenience or plain cheating?

It is because of this one characteristic that Malaysian politics is in the state it is in. Malaysian politicians can’t say “No!” to power and position and that is the reason why they can be easily bought. Woe on the people if they are placed in public office!

It is extremely disappointing that the poster girl of Reformasi was unable to resist the Malaysian political malaise. Very, very disappointing indeed.

There’s a silver lining …

… to those who were sacked or suspended by Umno last Friday! The Umno supreme council sacked 44 party members and suspended four. They included big names such as former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Selangor Umno chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar who were sacked and Sembrong Member of Parliament Hishammuddin Hussein who was suspended.

There were other key people too among them such as the former Johor state assemblyman Datuk Maulizan Bujang, former Jempol MP Datuk Seri Mohd Salim Sharif, and former Umno information chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan.

According to Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan, they were sacked or suspended for ‘becoming independent candidates, candidates for parties other than Barisan Nasional (BN), and being involved in assisting opponent parties during the 15th general election (GE15).”

Their party may have punished them for whatever reason and it may be a bitter pill to swallow but consider the options because the choices these 48 make may well change the course of Malaysian politics in the very near future!

Those sacked will now have to decide whether to continue in politics or join a new party or form a party. They have one very positive factor in their favour; they no longer carry the corruption and arrogance baggage associated with their former party. And that may work to their advantage!

Those who have been suspended may choose to sit out their six-year suspension period or choose to leave the party. If they want to start all over again without the Umno baggage, the latter is a suitable exit strategy! Since only Hishammuddin is an MP in the purged group, the departure of the rest will not trigger the application of the Anti-hopping law.

Should Hishammudin decide to leave Umno, the Sembrong MP will trigger a by-election which may be a safe test to gauge his support and/or lack of support for Umno. If he is sure of his grassroots support he can either stand as an independent or join another party. He may lose but with the current mood against Umno and the Umno-Pakatan Harapan (PH) tie-up, it’s a risk that could pay off.

The point is that with the purge an opportunity has now opened up to form a new coalition without the Umno and Umno-PH baggage. So, these 48 politicians now in limbo need to think through the options clearly and shop around to form the best possible alternative to the current status quo.

Firstly, they need to size up the current political climate correctly. In doing so, the 48 need to keep in mind three key points.

1. Don’t let the desire to become prime minister be the overriding factor. If it does, the 48 will willingly make compromises to assume and stay in power and agree to the formation of backdoor governments, and lose their credibility in the process. The Perikatan Nasional (PN), Umno-led, and now the so-called PH-led unity governments of Muhyiddin Yassin, Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Anwar Ibrahim respectively are proof of it.

All three administrations were established with the help of the king without the mandate of the people, even if at that time, the unity government was the choiceless alternative to keep radically Islamic PAS as the single party which won the most number of seats out of government.

2. Determine to do everything within the leeway the federal constitution provides and according to the norms and conventions of parliamentary democracy. It is the MPs who must fight to ensure the sovereignty of the government and that can only happen if they alone form a government without being indebted to anyone outside of Parliament.

There will be attempts to interfere by external forces such as the constitutional monarch and rulers, businesses and/or a superpower like the United States. This will happen only if MPs let them. If MPs stand firm on the constitution and refuse to let any external force influence the outcome of a general election, and make no compromises, there will be no interference, and the government will be indebted to no one except the people.

MPs must find their conviction in defending the rights of the people — not that of power brokers. When they find that conviction they would be in a strong position to fight on behalf of the people and the sincerity and strength of their conviction will make it easier to sell their position to other parties and to negotiate around. The end result will be a sovereign government respected by the people and other nations.

If the 48 form or join a party or coalition and become MPs or assemblypersons and a few of them are nominated to become a menteri besar (chief minister) or prime minister without making any constitutional compromise, he/she achieves the position in the proper way and will be respected.

3. With the above two factors in mind, either form a new party or join an existing one. But there are some parties that must not be courted. PN, PH and PAS.

Join PN if the intention is to advance PAS’ Islamic state. PN’s lead partner, Bersatu, is bent on keeping PAS in tow to get the numbers and all other parties recognizing the multi-cultural characteristics of Malaysian society will eschew both parties.

PH must not be courted as long as it embraces the court-cluster-led Umno. Some of the 48 may want to join PH partner Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as its philosophy may be closer to their beliefs. They should think before they leap.

PH won only 11% of the Malay vote and how much of that went to PKR is yet to be known. In other words, PKR probably won seats on a combination of urban non-Malay or mostly Chinese, and Malay votes.

Right now there are rumblings on the ground as to whether the voters made a mistake in voting for an Anwar-led PH as a result of the latter’s decision to include Umno MPs facing court charges for corruption, in the Cabinet, the constitutional basis for forming the unity government and accommodation of the rulers in government matters.

The 48 should stand for election either as independents or as candidates of a party in the state elections to test voter support. It would be better if they formed a new party or joined an existing party like Warisan or Pejuang to see if voter disgruntlement will be expressed for an alternative Malay-based party/coalition. The small parties can join together to form a new Malay-based coalition.

In GE15, Pejuang tested the voters through Gerakan Tanah Air but failed miserably. But the current sentiments on the ground are different. There is disquiet over the lack of firmness to deal with corruption while reforms take a back seat. The risk is that the 48 may lose but they would have tried and, in reality, they lose nothing.

Should the coalition of small parties make headway in the state elections, the momentum may begin for a repeat in a general election. It may pull parties not altogether happy to be associated with the court-cluster-led Umno and its accommodating partner PH, out of the unity government in a general election and a new, baggage-free axis of Malay-based power inclusive of parties representing other communities may emerge that is democratic, constitutional, representative of the people and confident because it has the mandate of the people.

To the 48, think of what you can do to change Malaysia’s political landscape, perhaps, forever. Think and act for the good of the country. In the cloud of gloom you may be in, there IS a silver lining.

What’s the basis for Anwar’s decisions?

Just before Chinese New Year, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that the status of Sabah and Sarawak as regions rather than states must be referred to the rulers before the issue is submitted to the Cabinet for consideration.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) meeting, he said, “We need to respect the process.” However, he gave no explanation as to whether this process was spelt out in the federal constitution.

The people have a right to know if the decision he has made to refer a government matter such as the MA63 to the rulers before they are discussed by the Cabinet and then Parliament, is within the ambit of the federal constitution.

In the parliamentary democracy that Malaysia practises, the prime minister is the head of government and is first and foremost accountable to Parliament and presents all matters of government such as amendments to the federal constitution to Parliament first. When Parliament approves the amendments, they are then sent to the king who knows what he should do and what he need not do as according to the constitution.

If Anwar is departing from the usual procedure, he needs to explain on what constitutional grounds he has made the decision. In the absence of a reason for such a decision, it appears as if he is deferring to the rulers and seeking their approval/input before sending the amendments to Parliament. If this is the correct procedure, he needs to back it according to the constitution on the advice of the Attorney-General (A-G).

The A-G’s advice should also come under the scrutiny of his peers to ascertain if he has interpreted the constitution correctly. If he hasn’t, then he should be removed and replaced with an A-G who has a better and fuller grasp of the constitution.

The people have a right to know if the prime minister is making decisions according to the constitution and if he is getting the correct advice on an important issue such as referring government matters to the rulers first when the latter are not supposed to interfere with government matters.

Likewise with Anwar’s decision to include Members of Parliament facing court charges in the Cabinet. It will have a bearing on court decisions as clearly seen as Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has filed an application in the High Court to have his passport returned permanently.

The passport was previously surrendered to the court as an additional bail condition after he was charged with 47 charges of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving Akalbudi Foundation funds. Zahid’s reason is to carry out his duties as the DPM.

Whether the court will reverse its decision is yet to be seen but it puts the court in an awkward position and begs the question as to whether Anwar’s decision places added pressure on the court to revisit its decision. Shouldn’t a prime minister’s responsibility include refraining from adding pressure on the courts?

Anwar may have other reasons for making the decisions he is making which the people don’t need to know. The people only need to know if he is acting according to the constitution and the accepted conventions of parliamentary democracy. That remains invisible, especially in the above decisions.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Drive safe, eat well, enjoy family, relatives and friends and if you are out holidaying somewhere, soak in the new experience! It’s a long weekend, so all Malaysians can enjoy the occasion too in whatever way we want to.

Enjoy Yee Sang. These days we can get it from anywhere. Toss the ingredients together and raise your noodles as high as you can raise it for longevity! In the Chinese zodiac, the rabbit signifies longevity — so do noodles, and hence the tradition of raising your noodles as high as you can go when tossing yee sang! The rabbit also signifies peace and prosperity and the Year of the Rabbit 2023 is said to be a year of hope.

So, wishing all of you a peaceful, happy and prosperous new year and one that is full of hope and health that will give you good long years ahead!

Folks, this long weekend, take a break and be full of hope for a better year.

Wishing all a wonderful Chinese New Year!

The problem with the AG’s proposal

Attorney-General Idrus Harun’s proposal to make the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Federal Constitution the authoritative text was surprising in terms of timeliness.

He has been a fairly quiet AG having made only a few press statements in his position since he was appointed two years ago and it is hard to understand why at the close of his tenure he would make a proposal that would have great significance in the interpretation and application of the constitution.

It is very likely that Azhar would be replaced by the new government. So to make such a proposal now would seem like he wanted to get it started immediately so that subsequent AGs can follow through on it.

There’s nothing wrong with making the BM translation of the Federal Constitution the authoritative text especially since it is stated in the constitution. However, it is a project that requires much study and should be undertaken by experts who know both English and BM to make the translation as accurate as possible to the original. That would require intellectual skills to grasp the breadth and depth of the Federal Constitution and the nuances each law encapsulates.

In the absence of such able experts, the translation might be a watered-down version of the Federal Constitution and would be detrimental to serving justice.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), in expressing its concern over Idrus’ proposal, said it could impact cases where one parent converted his or her child or children to another religion.

It noted that the Federal Court ruled in the M Indira Gandhi case that in Article 12(4), the singular word “parent” included the plural “parents” whereas the BM translation of the Federal Constitution, stated that “The religion of a minor below the age of 18 must be determined by the mother, father or guardian.”

The BM translation thus allows one parent or guardian to determine the religion of the minor whereas the court interpreted the English version of “parent” to include parents, which means both parents must agree to the minor’s conversion.

The issue is still being considered by the courts. It, however, shows how the BM translation did not include the concept of parenthood as a combined responsibility of both parents rather than one parent or guardian and chose to limit the definition to a narrower and literal rendering of the English word “parent”.

The BM translation of Article 12(4) is an example of how a word or words not carefully chosen could create a divergence in interpretation that would affect the lives of citizens seeking redress in the courts.

Any BM translation of the Federal Constitution must eliminate such divergence in interpretation. It’s a mammoth job requiring years of research and study and should not be proposed by an AG who might not last long in his job.

Seeing into 2023

The political climate will not improve. In fact, it might get worse with coups and the toppling of incumbent federal and state governments actually happening. Already, there is talk that Perikatan Nasional (PN) has initiated a London move to topple the Agong-formed Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led unity government and that, in Sabah, a change of government is impending.

While these nascent efforts are yet to materialize, they indicate political instability that will cast a long pall of gloom over development policies, the economy and governance.

The government will continue to put out fires but long-term macro policies to address structural and underlying problems like climate change, deforestation, water cuts, flood management, economic revival, political stability, corruption and abuse of power will remain wanting. Incumbent MPs will be engrossed with staying in power while the opposition coalitions and parties will be scheming to overthrow them.

Both sides will resort to means that may not be constitutional but politically expedient. So, PH will continue to strengthen its ties with the court-cluster-led Umno. How that would affect the corruption cases in the courts is yet to be seen.

The unity government will also welcome associations with the Agong and Sultans to bolster their standing in government. Whether that would extend the influence of royals to the government will depend on how the prime minister stands up to them according to the tenets of parliamentary democracy.

As a rule, prime ministers and MPs should not be seen hobnobbing with royalty unless in their clearly-defined official capacities. Outside of these official duties, the two should not be seen together as it implies the possibility of influence-peddling at the expense of the people. Royals are above politics and should not be making suggestions and advising leaders on how to run the government. In fact, they should be taking suggestions on the advice of the prime minister.

Since we follow the Westminister model of parliamentary democracy, it is good to see how the UK MPs conduct themselves. Are they given “an audience” by the king or sultan? Do the latter endorse political candidates, coalitions and parties?

Such undemocratic indiscretions as described above will continue.

Placing unelected officials as ministers and an unelected former MP as the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat is another undemocratic practice that has taken place and such appointments may continue. No doubt previous Speakers were not MPs. PH’s first Speaker, Muhamad Ariff Yusof, performed well but he wasn’t a parliamentarian and in the crisis that followed the Sheraton moves was unable to recognize the powers he could wield under the constitution to diffuse the situation by agreeing to a confidence vote.

Non-parliamentarian Speakers will not have the perspective of a parliamentarian to grasp the powers he/she wields to provide the final check and balance to ensure the legitimacy of a government and the independence of the Dewan Rakyat. The previous Speaker, Azhar Harun, who wasn’t an MP, was proof of decisions that favoured the government rather than the House.

The current Speaker, former MP Johari Abdul, was not elected to the 15th Parliament but was elected to the post. Not an MP, he will have excess powers because he has no constituents to provide the check and balances if he acted in any way that displeased his voters. As a rule, no unelected official should become a Speaker or a cabinet minister.

Such democratic conventions are not practised by Malaysian politicians and until they do, lapses in good government can be expected.

Opposition coalitions and parties too are no better at playing politics according to the rules and conventions. Afterall, PN parties were the first coup plotters who became the government and who are now the opposition in the Dewan Rakyat. They will continue to justify their behind-the-scenes games to topple sitting governments in the name of political expediency on the basis that they won the majority of the Malay seats.

Any democratic government would understand that without a comfortable majority, the people have the right to change their government mid-term. It’s that threat that keeps governments on their toes. The opposition will use this to justify backroom deals to destabilize the government.

Governments, however, can not fall when a coalition/party publicly announces a withdrawal of support for it. An announcement can be made but it must be proven through a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat or state assembly.

If the laws make no reference to a no-confidence or confidence vote, the Speaker and MPs must make some allowance to call for one until laws and provisions are made to make a no-confidence or confidence vote compulsory to prove the majority of the government and/or the claims of its challengers.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) should not substitute for a no-confidence or confidence vote. The MoU signed by the partners in the unity government to support Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will be ineffective if party members choose to go against the MoU. The worst that would happen to them under the Anti-hopping Bill is that their parties will expel them, in which case they may join another party. There are many parties to choose from now!

As a result, Parliament will become a shadow of its former self. There will not be much meaningful debate because both sides have and will do the same things that have been done and debates will end up with the pot calling the kettle black!

However, the political climate will change if two new developments emerge. Firstly, parliamentary constituencies need to be redelineated to equitably represent the Malays as they form the majority community in the country. Based on statistics, it needs to be ascertained if the majority of Malays are now in the urban areas. If they are, then there should be more urban Malay-majority seats rather than the current majority of Malay seats in the rural and semi-rural regions.

Once this structural imbalance is corrected, and an election is held, a truer picture will emerge as to which Malay-based party has the majority support of Malays. Parties that have traditionally won the support of the rural Malay seats like Umno and now PAS and PN will have fewer seats and will be unable to claim a majority as they are able now and consequently the possibility of a hung government will be greatly reduced.

Whether Anwar has the political will to make this happen is yet to be seen as his current firm partner in government, Umno, may oppose it since it would mean fewer seats in Umno’s traditional stronghold. If, however, Malay parties begin wooing the urban Malay voters, Umno has a good chance as its opponents to win more seats.

It is this inequitable distribution of Malay seats between the rural and urban areas that is the underlying cause of discontent with Malay representation in government. Once the structural imbalance is corrected, the issue of Malay majority representation in government will be resolved.

Secondly, leaders need to emerge who will fight to uphold parliamentary democracy and follow democratic conventions and the rule of law. They should not follow in the footsteps of their predecessors who trump the constitution for the sake of political expediency. We need leaders who will buck the trend and assert and practise parliamentary democracy and establish the conventions for future leaders to follow.

When these two developments happen, there will be political stability as a political culture would evolve to keep political stability intact even in the face of a crisis.

Happy New Year! Carpe Diem!

It was a happy Christmas and I’m hoping the Christmas spirit will take all of you into a Happy New Year! So, there will be no political commentary today because that would only spoil the feel-good factor!

I will resume my thoughts on politics next week. Until then, I am just going to enjoy myself doing the things I do and extend the Christmas season by another week!

I am hoping all of you had or are having a happy season despite the realities of life and are ready to venture into the new year, encouraged body, mind and spirit, to take the bull by the horns.

My New Year resolution for 2023 is carpe diem! Seize the day! Don’t take things lying down, passive and defeated, but rise up and take on the challenges that come our way and live — to the fullest!

Have a great year!

Merry Christmas!

This season I learned that when all is dark, find a little Christmas in a musical, a visit with a friend or family, a song, a gift for a loved one, putting up the Christmas tree and some decor, helping someone, enjoying another. It lights up the darkness around and within and the dark somehow is not so dark anymore!

That’s Christmas! When we celebrate the birth of the Child who brings something of the divine into our midst and it can not be snuffed out because it is God with us, Immanuel whose other name is Jesus Christ.

In the celebration, we spread some cheer because this Child brings hope, joy and comfort — good tidings. That’s something to lift our spirits up!

So, folks, enjoy the season. Find a little Christmas and lighten up your hearts!

Have yourselves a blessed Christmas week!