Tag Archives: emergency

Muhyiddin’s political misadventures continue …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough of talking. Make it happen.

Vote to save parliamentary democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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