Tag Archives: Anwar

A dangerous scenario

What is wrong with this picture: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim debating with convicted former prime minister Najib Razak before a 400-seat, capacity-full hall with opposition leaders seated in the front row? Is anything wrong at all with this picture?

To Najib’s supporters, this is another successful PR campaign legitimising Najib’s comeback to politics and they will see nothing wrong with their Bossku exchanging ideas with another politician. It affirms their Bossku’s credibility.

But, what do discerning voters see? Firstly, they see opposition leaders — Anwar and the others who attended the event — as thumping their noses at the judiciary which convicted Najib. It is the same message sent at the Hari Raya event at the Istana where Najib was seated at the high table with the Agong.

Some people may argue that Anwar is in a similar position to Najib. After all, he was pardoned by the Agong and Najib may want a similar pardon. There is, however, a huge difference between the two. Anwar didn’t mess with government money; Najib did. So, how can we trust the words of a convicted criminal? And, why is Anwar giving credence to Najib’s words when the latter’s actions are questionable?

Very clearly, both and those who attended the debate are disrespecting the judiciary. Should we support such leaders?

Secondly, the presence of Najib’s supporters at the debate is expected. They follow him wherever he goes to provide the carnival feel to his presence and removes the guilt of his conviction and makes him more endearing to his support base.

The presence of opposition leaders at the function, however, indicates that Anwar has their support but to do what? That is the other disturbing message that this picture sends. Opposition leaders are willing to go along with Anwar even if what he is doing is objectionable.

It appears, too, that the media is going along with this clear breach of principles. They played up the debate when nothing new was stated by either participant. The fact that Najib is a convicted criminal is downplayed. Even when he sneezes, it gets media space. The criticisms against Anwar are few and so protectively mild.

There should be much greater objective investigation in the media of Anwar’s antics than has been demonstrated so far, and Najib should be ignored. This is extremely important because Anwar’s current course of action very clearly facilitates the return of Najib/Umno to head the government with Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties on its coattails!

Why else would Anwar sign a Memorandum of Understanding with an Umno prime minister and engage in a pointless debate with a convicted former Umno prime minister?

To the discerning voter, it appears as if Anwar is playing a double game. If PH can form an alliance with other parties that would be considered. But, apparently, Anwar is doubtful that would happen especially since PKR and DAP, both in PH, have been losing their seats in all the recent elections. Hence, his openness to negotiating with Umno.

If Umno wins enough seats in a general election and if PH joins it to form a majority even with fewer seats, PH gets to be in government. The price for it is Najib’s political legitimacy!

That is the reason why I have painted the above picture as it sends a very dangerous message — Najib’s comeback is being facilitated by PH knowingly or unknowingly. Urban voters who form the vast bulk of support for PH now have to be very careful to think whether to vote for PH.

We don’t know what Anwar is up to because we can’t rely on the media which tends not to investigate him. But if the MoU and the recent debate are anything to go by, voters need to be extremely wary of PH parties.

More than ever now there’s a need to form a new coalition in which PH is no longer central to provide the alternative to an Umno-centred coalition. Until such a coalition emerges, a general election may be detrimental to Malaysia as it may bring Najib back with the help of opposition parties.

The kind of leaders not to elect

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is going ahead with the debate with Umno adviser and former prime minister Najib Razak which is scheduled for May 12. Once again he went along with Najib’s request to hold the debate after the fasting month although Anwar’s side had no issue with having it during the fasting month.

The bigger issue is: Why is Anwar having a debate with a convicted prime minister on the national political stage? According to his recent statements, he explains it as being nice in accordance with his religious beliefs. That is understandable but is it ethical professionally?

Let’s say if one was a head of department in an organization where it’s CEO has been found guilty of embezzling funds from the company and is removed and one then becomes vice-president and meets with the previous CEO at some function, of course, one needs to be nice to him. But would the new VP in his right mind ever engage the convicted CEO in any official capacity when that could open up the possibility of bringing the latter back into the company in any influential position? If the vice president did that it is very likely that he would get demoted if not fired!

Being nice should not be confused with justifying the bending of the rules especially when it involves someone in or vying for public office.

Unfortunately, that is what we have been seeing since Najib’s time. Najib, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, current prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and now Anwar all seem to have bent the rules in the name of Malay dominance, unity and religion. None seem able to recognize that what they have done or are doing is wrong. Najib is in denial of his responsibility in the 1MDB scandal; Muhyiddin and Sabri do not see anything wrong in seizing the premiership without proving their majority; Anwar is ready to engage with a convicted criminal in a debate that will turn out to be a PR opportunity in Najib’s favour.

Did Anwar get the go-ahead from his party and his partners in Pakatan Harapan to engage with Najib and the court cluster leading Umno? Is this ethical?

How can the people trust such leaders? By their own actions, these leaders have disqualified themselves from any position in public office, much less the position of a prime minister. What is there to say they will not bend the rules again for their convenience in order to remain in power?

The people need to be wary of such leaders. In the next general election, we should not elect them or their parties. We really should give other leaders a chance to emerge and lead the nation according to the rule of law — not according to political, religious and personal expediency, which, in effect, means doing as you please and getting away with it!

Debate and anti-hopping bill favour Najib

It is very likely — if the events subsequent to the famous Sheraton moves are anything to go by — that the scheduled debate between former prime minister and now Umno adviser Najib Razak and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and vice-president Rafizi Ramli will turn to Najib’s advantage.

Rafizi threw Najib a dare to debate the financially-troubled Sapura Energy Berhad after the latter suggested a government bailout of the company. Najib took up the dare on the condition that the debate was with Anwar with Rafizi alongside.

In doing so, Najib framed the debate as one between equals, a former prime minister and the current Opposition leader. It lends credibility to his position as a force of influence and diminishes his conviction for criminal charges in the eyes of his supporters which, precisely, is his objective.

In addition, he is turning the debate into a major public relations exercise as he wants to live stream the debate. Najib sees the debate as a chance to “rock it!” Live-streamed and rocking it as he engages with an equal, his credibility enhances in the eyes of his voter base. His voters will see him as having an intelligent discussion with opposition politicians and will be impressed, seeing him as a capable leader holding his own.

Even if he loses the debate in that Anwar and Rafizi may succeed in rebutting him, he will still come out smelling like a rose because he framed the debate as one between friends on opposing sides of an issue who are simply “rocking it”! So, in gentlemanly fashion, he would graciously accept defeat, offering a handshake to the winners as they are still friends. His target voter base will be warmed to know the debate between the Malay leaders was so amicable even if Najib lost. Another of Najib’s public relations exercises which will bring about the desired payoff. More votes for his side — Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN)!

But, what will PKR get?

PKR is probably hoping that their attempt at an expose will undermine Najib’s appeal. Will it work against his PR campaigns? So far it hasn’t. PKR was thrashed in all the recent elections in Malacca, Sarawak and Johor while Najib successfully worked the crowds and won without discussing issues and simply humbly smiling a lot and identifying with the base.

(Of course, there’s that other issue of alleged cash incentives that follow his campaign trail. That’s just the icing on the cake. They come together, the voters know!)

Can PKR match it? Or will the issues Anwar and Rafizi raise fall like water off a duck’s back?

If PKR is hoping to lure the fence-sitters, Anwar and Rafizi, perhaps have not fully understood that the fence-sitters don’t need convincing. They are already convinced about who Najib is and voted for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 2018 general elections to get rid of him only to be disappointed by PH by the subsequent decisions it made which have brought him back to a position of influence.

So, engaging Najib in any form whether through a debate or a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with his party is just playing into his hands. He benefits at the expense of the other side.

Besides, the Sapura Energy issue is of national importance as it involves taxpayers’ money and should be discussed in the Dewan Rakyat which will expose the issue to a wider national audience.

With regard to the MoU, is it also another chance to play into Najib’s hands? Apparently, Bersatu is not keen on passing the anti-hopping bill — a condition of the MoU — which means the government is not confident the bill will be passed with a two-thirds majority, which is the requirement for the bill to be passed.

PH parties want the bill passed and have declared they will support it. Other opposition parties have not made their stand.

In the current political scenario, which party stands to gain the most from passing the anti-hopping bill? Umno, because if some of their MPs leave to join other parties, Umno will be unable to form a majority government. So, it serves Umno’s purpose for the anti-hopping bill to be passed.

The Umno-led government has deferred the introduction of the bill to a special Dewan Rakyat sitting next Monday but as of yesterday it was announced that the bill will not be introduced but an amendment to the federal constitution will be introduced instead which must be passed with a two-thirds majority to “facilitate” the future passing of the bill.

If the bill can’t be passed now with a two-thirds majority, what needs to “facilitate” the passing of the bill in the future? It can only mean one thing: The introduction of the amendment to the federal constitution is meant to allow for the passing of the anti-hopping bill later with a simple majority and not a two-thirds majority.

That may be possible even if Bersatu MPs oppose the bill. If that’s the case, MPs must be allowed to vote according to their conscience. If the anti-hopping bill can not get a two-thirds majority of support from the MPs, it should be shelved. This bill is too significant to be passed with only half the house supporting it.

It was reported that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob will be holding a meeting on Sunday to inform the MPs what the amendment to the federal constitution will entail. Whatever that is, MPs must be allowed to vote according to their conscience.

It is unethical to twist the constitution to pass an amendment with the help of an MoU in order for the easy passing of an important bill that will affect every constituent in the country just so that a bill is passed with a simple majority to protect political parties — particularly Umno in the current political scenario — and bring back a leader and his cohorts to power aided and abetted by opposition parties.

Umno stands to gain but PH may see losing more ground.

That is playing into Najib’s sleight of hand!

Factors to consider in strategies for GE15

There are two distinct outcomes of the Malacca state elections to take note of seriously in preparing for the upcoming 15th General Election (GE15).

Firstly, opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) should realise by now that it would be foolhardy for it to go into an election alone. PH, led by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, entered the election without the help of other opposition parties like Pejuang, Muda and Warisan.

Warisan is Sabah-based and could not have been much help but Pejuang and Muda, which are Peninsula-based, could have lent their election machinery or shown their solidarity with PH parties by their presence on the campaign trail. Muda president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s statement that Anwar should consider other opposition parties in seeking cooperation is telling.

Muda had wanted to contest in the state elections under PH but apparently changed its mind when PH decided to accept the two Umno assemblymen from the four who withdrew their support for the Umno-led state government causing the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Ali Rustam to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh elections. The two were then sacked from Umno but PH coalition parties PKR accepted one and Amanah the other.

Muda apparently did not want to be associated with a coalition that accepted the defectors whose action triggered the state elections. Both Muda and PH might have had their reasons for making the decisions they did but Syed Saddiq’s point is worthy of note: PH should consider the sensitivities of its fellow opposition parties rather than choose a course of action where they go it alone.

Pejuang had previously announced it was not participating in the state elections but if PH had cordial relations with Pejuang the latter might have helped in some other ways that might have worked in PH’s favour.

Yet, Pejuang chairman helped from a distance. On the eve of polling day, Pejuang chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asked for bloc voting (where every MP’s vote is recorded) rather than voice voting in passing Budget 2022 at the policy stage at the Dewan Rakyat. He failed in his attempt because PH MPs bound by the MoU did not vote for it. A minimum of 15 MP’s votes is required before the request is carried through.

If bloc voting was allowed and the Budget was defeated or won by a very close margin it might have affected the votes in the Malacca state elections. A strong united assault by the opposition would have suggested a possibility that it could win and swing more votes to PH.

It was a missed opportunity and we will never know how it would have affected the state elections. It just showed that PH failed to seize an opportunity that offered itself and use it to its advantage. PH demonstrated that same indifference in not voting against the previous Budget last year and in failing to do so legitimised an unconstitutional government. It did the same when former premier Muhyiddin Yassin resigned in August. PH could have approached Sarawak’s GPS to join it to gain a majority or let Warisan president Shafie Apdal take the lead in approaching GPS. That didn’t happen. So, we will never know now if PH could have succeeded on any of these three occasions.

These events were missed opportunities for PH to show it can work with and lead a multi-party coalition to win. If the PH leadership can not demonstrate the resolve to unite the opposition to face GE15, it will be unable to form the next federal government.

Secondly, the bank of votes in Malay-majority constituencies are no longer guaranteed to Umno. According to DAP’s Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming, Barisan Nasional’s (BN) vote share in the Malacca state elections saw only a slight increase of 1%.

However, political analyst Bridget Welsh, who is also an honorary research associate of the University of Nottingham, in her preliminary analysis of the state elections said that while Umno got a 5% increase in votes PKR lost only a small share of the vote, from 10% to 9% in its wiped-out seat losses. In eight seats Umno won by narrow margins of less than 5%.

This suggests that with a concerted and united effort, PH may be able to win back the seats it lost and, perhaps, even win new seats.

Of all the parties that took part in the state elections, it is said that Bersatu performed beyond expectations because it was expected to be wiped out but, instead, won two seats in Sungai Udang and Bemban. Welsh attributes this to the younger voters who were looking for alternatives to Umno and found it in Bersatu.

Bersatu president Muhyiddin however may not be jumping for joy. With all the cash that he poured into the hands of the B40 group during his administration under the guise of covid-19 aid and which continues under Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Muhyiddin believed he could make a clean sweep. After all, just before he resigned he did say that “millions” supported him.

That would be a sobering fact that the support he thought he had was illusory.

The Malacca state elections reveal that the Malay-majority voters have seen through the antics of their leaders and have not fallen for it. Voter turnout was low at around 66%; cash aid didn’t tempt voters to surge out of their homes to vote. Fear of covid-19 and being fatigued by self-serving politics could be the reasons for the poor turnout. But, it can also mean that an increasing number of Malay voters are now ready to vote for candidates other than Umno.

If Umno believes its performance in the Malacca polls will be repeated in GE15, it is going to be disappointed. Malay-majority seats will become the battlegrounds in GE15 and it will be fought hard by multiple parties in multi-cornered fights.

Umno, Bersatu, PAS, Amanah and PKR in some cases, and Pejuang will be contesting in the Malay-majority seats. Pejuang has already announced that it intends to contest in 120 of the traditionally Malay seats held by Umno.

Malay votes are going to be split. No one Malay party is going to get a majority to form a government on its own. It will be forced to form coalitions. The Malay parties like Umno, PAS and Bersatu may go it alone and when unable to get a majority will join forces together with Sabah and Sarawak parties, post-elections.

If, however, Pejuang emerges with a significant number of Malay seats, it would be interesting to see how the coalitions change to accommodate it. The first choice of Malay-based parties will be other Malay-based parties, which means PH will only get the leftover parties and it may not be enough to form a government.

It would be in PH’s interests to preempt that possibility by entering the elections with an already firmed-up coalition. Otherwise, it may be left in the cold on the opposition bench.

The Sarawak elections on Dec 18 will see if Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) will slice into GPS’ super majority. If it does, that is another party PH has to consider to form a PH-Plus coalition.

PH should first consider fellow opposition parties like Warisan, Pejuang, Muda and PSB to form a PH-Plus coalition. It will be the only progressive coalition that will be led by both urban and non-urban Malays and represent all the major people groups that make up Malaysia. It will be a formidable coalition that will be hard to defeat.

That is an opportunity that GE15 offers. PH should make sure that it does not become another missed opportunity. It is up to Anwar to make sure that that opportunity happens.

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.