Tag Archives: Anwar

Where is honour among MPs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

GPS is no different

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

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

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

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

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

The Opposition that isn’t the alternative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The need to resign and the Opposition’s primary task

In Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s address to the nation yesterday when he announced that the government will give free vaccines to innoculate 26.5 million or 80% of the population against covid-19, he also said that when the emergency is lifted he would dissolve Parliament to make way for a general election.

He, I am sure, will keep to his word but I’m a bit perplexed here. When the emergency is lifted, what is the status of the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government he leads now under emergency declared by the Agong? That government reverts to its state of not only being a minority government but one without the authority of the office to remain in government.

The term of the PN government that began when the Agong swore in Muhyiddin as the prime minister automatically ended on Jan 9 when the Machang MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub (Umno) withdrew his support for Muhyiddin and the number of MPs supporting Muhyiddin dropped to 110 of the 220 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat. That number dropped to 109 on Jan 12 when the Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz (Umno) announced his withdrawal of support for Muhyiddin, leaving the latter with a clear minority. A minority government can not continue to govern unless it has resigned and is reappointed by the Agong for an interim period until a majority government can be formed.

Since the minority PN government did not resign, when the emergency is lifted we will have a minority and illegal government, one without the authority of office to govern. So, with what authority can Muhyiddin dissolve Parliament and call for a general election? If he does, I suspect his decision — like his decision to advise the Agong to agree to an emergency — can be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.

This is common sense. Looking at all the practising democracies of the world, it is clear that there is a sequence of steps that needs to be followed to legitimize a government. Take Itay, for example. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned last week when the small Italia Viva party withdrew from the ruling coalition leaving him with a minority. Subsequently, the process began to form a government with a majority.

Why do PN leaders and their supporters feel they don’t have to follow these democratic conventions? Or, they just don’t know? This is the real reason how PN came to power — not because the previous prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, resigned.

Mahathir resigned because he lost support from his party. But, what followed was chaotic and in the swift succession of events, some constitutional steps were overlooked, either out of ignorance or political expediency. The process to form a new government with a majority begins with the resignation of the incumbent government when it has lost its majority.

It, indeed, will be interesting to see how the courts will rule on these issues and if the judiciary is able to recognize the constitutional relevance of the cases that have been brought to its attention and the urgency of the need to address them. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim, former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan and a number of NGOs have started legal proceedings against Muhyiddin and Attorney General Idrus Harun regarding the constitutional basis of their decisions/advice to the Agong.

If the courts don’t throw out these cases, and a clear decision is made, future prime ministerial candidates will know in black and white what they can and should do and can’t and shouldn’t do according to the federal constitution.

So, when the emergency is lifted the first thing Muhyiddin and his Cabinet need to do is to resign and advise the Agong to call on the leader who can muster a coalition with a majority to form the government. Instead of bickering and blaming each other,  the Opposition needs to set their differences aside and present themselves as the only united, cohesive coalition with a majority under one name as the prime minister.

The Opposition has to stop blaming Mahathir for the fall of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. It fell not because he resigned but because Muhyiddin pulled Bersatu out of PH and it lost its majority. Mahathir still got a majority after Muhyiddin was named the prime minister but he lost communication with the Palace and his majority was ignored as Muyhiddin took power.

Subsequently, there were a couple of opportunities when the Opposition could have taken control of Putrajaya but their efforts fell through and that wasn’t due to Mahathir’s doing. So, why aren’t these people being blamed? Everyone knows PKR created a ruckus over Anwar’s position. With PKR demanding a timeline for the transfer of power how could Mahathir be sure of their support?

The blame game will lead to nothing but recriminations and accusations, which means the Opposition will lose the chance to offer itself as a strong and united coalition with a majority in the event the PN coalition resigns from government.

The primary task facing the Opposition now is to reconcile, forge together in unity, agree on one name as prime minister and wait for the PN government to resign.

A general election after the emergency is lifted is bad timing because people would want to first find jobs again and start over their businesses. They wouldn’t want it to be disrupted by an election. It would be better to wait until life goes back to some semblance of normalcy before a general election is held.

A general election now would also mean that political parties as they are now — divided — will be unable to form a majority and political instability will continue unless the Opposition is able to present itself as the sole alternative that has a majority.

I believe the Opposition will have a comfortable majority if they stopped attacking Mahathir and closed ranks and got ready to take over when the opportunity lends itself.

It might come sooner than we think.

What happens after next Tuesday?

After next Tuesday, we don’t know if the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government or coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), Muafakat Nasional (Umno-PAS pact), Pakatan Harapan (PH) Opposition, Gabongan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) or even the Gabongan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will exist!

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim has a scheduled meeting with the King on Tuesday where he will present a list of the names of MPs who have pledged to form a majority government. If, indeed, he has a majority of MPs to support him in his bid to form a government, that would, of course, be the end of the PN government.

It would be interesting to see who have agreed to join him and from which coalition because that might be mean that that coalition would break up or, at least, its composition would change. It could also result in a change of state governments. Another political imbroglio!

A precedent was set when Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin went to the King with his list of MPs to topple the previous PH government and failed to get the stamp of legitimacy from the Dewan Rakyat by facing a no-confidence vote. A counter-coup seems to be the only way to remove an unelected government which refused to face a no-confidence vote to get the mandate from the elected representatives of the people.

Why we need coups — like we are some banana republic! — to take control of the government beats me! Follow the constitution and the democratic convention of holding a no-confidence vote to test the degree of support of the claimants of majority support.  It would be less messy and the mandate of the people would be respected.

Unfortunately for us, Muhyiddin didn’t follow this practice, and following the precedent he set, a counter-coup may be the only solution to the extremely unstable situation of struggling to maintain a wafer-thin majority with all sorts of compromises!

Should Anwar succeed, I hope he will demonstrate his allegiance to the supremacy of the federal constitution and face a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat with a special session called to accomplish this.

If Anwar succeeds, I wonder how the parties will realign themselves and in which coalition. I hope in any coalition set to lead the government, PAS will not be a member. That would indicate that the coalition is willing to swing further to the right when the situation demands it and in the process advance PAS’s cause, perhaps even at the expense of minority groups.

We have seen how it helped Bersatu and Umno win a couple of seats although it didn’t stand for election in the recent Sabah state elections, as reported by political analyst Bridget Welsh in her analysis of the state elections posted on news portal Malaysiakini.  Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Maximillus Ongkilli and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) president Jeffrey Kitingan both had expressed their concerns to Muhyiddin and GRS that they disagreed with the move to appoint a PAS member to the state assembly.

Apparently, they had no clout to change the decision because PAS now has a seat in the Sabah state assembly. Yet PBS and Sabah Star chose to support GRS. Through deals and promises, party members get positions but the interests of the people they are supposed to protect are seemingly sacrificed. PBS and Sabah Star’s support comes mainly from the KadazanDusun Murut community most of whom are Christians. I wonder how they feel about this new development? Or, do their concerns even matter?

In the current political climate as ours where no Malay-based party has a clear majority and PAS is able to deliver votes to win, the position of the Islamic party especially in government will be strengthened. Will it temper the progressive notions of multi-culturalism or advance ultra-conservative ideals? It is a risk that multi-culturalism proponents will regret as I am sure PBS and Star do as they can do nothing now about PAS being in the Sabah state assembly.

Political parties need to be very careful as to which coalition they will join. A right-wing or a progressive one? The two sides don’t mix. A progressive coalition will help us move forward; a right-leaning coalition will take us backwards. It is imperative that political parties choose wisely.

Godspeed to the polls, Sabahans!

Sabah goes to the polls tomorrow amidst a great deal of furore in Peninsular Malaysia over Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim’s claim that he has the numbers to topple Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government.

The dust has yet to settle over Anwar’s numbers claim but Sabahans should ignore it and follow former Chief Justice Richard Malanjum’s call to vote for Warisan Plus.  Vote for Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan), Upko, PKR, DAP and Amanah and give them a two-thirds majority. With a new strong and stable government in place, Sabah can pass laws to stop party-hopping and ensure political stability in the state, which is necessary before development follows.

So, Sabahans vote for your stable future and reject every party associated with the current Prihatin Nasional (PN) government. You’ll be showing the constitutional way of electing your leaders — not by backdoor deals — and proving that bumiputras — whether Muslim, Christian, animists etc, etc — and the other races can be united under one banner for the good of the state.

You’ll rout the frog-hopping parties who have no qualms allying with crooks, bigots and desperate jobless politicians for power at the expense of the rakyat.

You’ll be saying to political parties which woo the religious party PAS under its current hardline leader Hadi Awang, that that is a mistake and there would be consequences.

You’ll be giving notice to the backdoor PN government that its days are numbered and demand the restoration of the federal constitution as the supreme law of the land with the expectation that everyone complies with it. When they don’t, there would be consequences.

So, Sabahans, in this elections, proudly vote for what you know is good for you. Vote for Warisan Plus and reduce all the other parties to a miserable whimpering croak who will never be able to raise their voices again unless to advocate the interests of the people.

So, Sabahans, wear your masks, maintain physical distancing, clean your hands and Godspeed to the polls!  You’ll be doing the rest of us Malaysians a huge favour by throwing out dirty old political frogs and ushering in a new, cleaner brand of politics!

 

PH-Plus is the sure way forward

It’s a pity that former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim seem to have parted ways. The counter coup they were trying to muster under the reinvented Pakatan Harapan (PH)-Plus coalition would have been the way forward but it seems to have been stymied by personal rather than national concerns.

Anwar wants to be prime minister (PM) and will not settle for the post of deputy. As PM would he be able to get the numbers from Members of Parliament (MPs) to form a government? If he could, why would PH member parties DAP and Amanah agree to Tun being PM? Apparently the view is that Tun more than Anwar will be able to command a majority from the MPs in the face of a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat.

That is the route that must be taken for Pakatan-Plus to retake the government: Seeking a majority from the MPs. There, seriously, is no other option. Forming alliances with other parties will merely continue the current state of political uncertainties with events unfolding in such a way as to bring Umno back in government.

A PH-Plus government will put an end to the current state of events. Najib and his associates and the current PN leadership will be done for — unless its members join PH-Plus. If the six-month premiership of Tun is agreed upon, after the period, the old guard will be gone for good, opening the way for a new crop of leaders to emerge. And that would be better for Malaysia than continuing on the current trajectory of political instability that strengthens Umno.

What Tun is asking — a six-month premiership — is a short but surest way of stopping the PN government. It would send a very clear and definite message that a government by treachery will not be tolerated and will be removed. The people need to see that our leaders will do everything possible to ensure that a legitimate government is installed according to the constitution and that any violation of the constitution will be brought to a swift end — at all cost.

Anwar needs to consider that his decisions are based on national rather than personal interests. He has said that trust — or the lack of it — was the issue with Tun since he didn’t give a definite date to hand over the premiership to Anwar. It needs to be said that Tun — or anyone else for the matter — can only give his word on what he can control, not what he can’t. Tun couldn’t control Perikatan Nasional (PN) Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s “betrayal” as he called it.

Anwar also said a six-month premiership was unworkable. True, not much can be achieved in six months, but it will allow for all PH policies and plans to be restored and after six months, Anwar can do whatever he likes as PM. More importantly it will restore the GE14 mandate of the people which was stolen from them.

As DAP supremo, Lim Kit Siang, has said, PH-Plus is Anwar’s best bet to become PM. But, even that can’t be guaranteed as political realities can change in six months. Tun can only promise on what he can control: He can step down in six months. Anything else can’t be predicted as it would depend on what happens in the six-month period.

However, the six-month period will provide Anwar with the opportunity to build his grassroots base. After that he can test it in a general election and if the party or coalition he leads wins, he becomes PM legitimately.

Becoming PM without election or approval by the Dewan Rakyat would make him no different from Muhyiddin. If he is committed to reforms, the PH-Plus route will facilitate it. Whether he becomes PM or not, his party, PKR, will emerge stronger for sending a clear message that it will not compromise its commitments to reforms for position.

The one opportunity to stop PN is right in front of us — if Anwar seizes it for the good of the nation. Again, there is no guarantee that Pakatan Harapan-Plus will win. But it is the only chance left. Hopefully, DAP and Amanah will succeed in bringing Tun and Anwar back as a team. It will be a force to reckon with.