Tag Archives: mahathir

The ball’s in Muhyiddin’s court

Just in case politicians in positions of power and privilege feel they have the right to act on expediency and get away with it, the High Court has given clear directions as to what is not  permissible behaviour, in its judgement in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case involving former prime minister Najib Razak.

In finding Najib guilty of all seven charges against him in the SRC case, High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali described Najib’s lack of action to recover funds from SRC International as “very puzzling” and he proceeded to list what Najib did and didn’t do that was questionable behaviour.

Leaders in top positions need to examine the judge’s judgement in-depth and learn what they should and should not do. The High Court has sent a clear message in defining — in this case — what constitutes abuse of power. Politicians need to realise that if they behave outside of the rule of law, they can be taken to court. That should act as a strong deterrent to abuse of power and position.

Yet, Umno politicians don’t seem to want to learn to operate within the rule of law. Even before the dust had settled on the SRC case, former chief minister, Musa Aman, launched an attempted coup to take over the Sabah government, saying that he has a majority of state assemblymen on his side. Incumbent Chief Minister Shafie Apdal preempted him by dissolving the state assembly and called for snap state elections.

Some of the assemblymen who joined Musa were sacked by their respective parties in Shafie’s Warisan-led coalition after the coup attempt.

If the coup had succeeded, it would have been another example of a backdoor government without the mandate of the people just as the current Prihatin Nasional (PN) government is.

It appears as if Umno, after the Najib conviction, is frantically trying to form the government, again through the backdoor. With the most number of MPs in the PN government (Barisan Nasional(BN) has 43 MPs (Umno — 39) and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu party has 31), Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has announced that it will not be a part of the PN coalition but will continue with its collaboration with Islamic party PAS in their Muafakat Nasional alliance.

Muafakat Nasional has extended an invitation to Bersatu to join the former. If Muhyiddin joins Muafakat, Umno will become the leading party; if it leaves it, PN will fall and snap elections will have to be called.

It serves Umno to work with PAS because the latter will give its support in order to influence decisions to be more “Islamic”. Whether such “influence” would be constitutional or not will be questionable but it puts Umno in the driving seat to protect its interests as it sees fit.  It would be as “legitimate” as the PN government is.

Whether these manoeuvres taking place now are constitutional or not isn’t the issue anymore; political expediency has taken over. Why bother about the constitution when a political party can assume power by coercing elected MPs to join it with the promise of money and position?

This is the political chaos Malay politics has descended into and it seems as if non-Malay parties have to play ball in order not to be left out — for the time being until we get back to adhering to the constitution. Amanah and the DAP, parties in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, have said they would support Muhyiddin if he refuses to join Muafakat.

The ball is in Muhyiddin’s court. What is apparent is that a Malay-majority only coalition cannot get the majority in the Dewan Rakyat without former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s support.

Umno, PAS and Bersatu in the PN represent about 70% of Malay votes. It’s a majority but it excludes the about 20-30% of Malay support for Tun and Parti Keadilan Rakyat( PKR).  This Malay support comes primarily from the urban and semi-urban areas where the progressive Malays are found who have no issue working with non-Malays and hence they get non-Malay support. The Malay intelligence is mostly in this group; they are the educated and skilled Malays who are in the position to lead but are now in the opposition.

If Malay-based parties continue to act in their backdoor ways, more and more Malays, especially the younger and educated ones are going to join the opposition which respects the constitution. Right now with the offer of money and position, Malay parties may be able to hold on to power. But in future elections, they will see their support dwindling as disgruntled younger voters swing to the opposition.

This segment of Malay voters may be a minority now but it will be a growing minority as evidenced by much of the positive comments on Najib’s conviction. They are like Judge Nazlan who can distinguish between abuse and rule of law and they prefer an elected government which conforms to the constitution.

Umno and PAS are thinking of the moment, the former about protecting its interests and the latter to make the government more “Islamic”. If Muhyiddin is sincerely thinking of the good of the nation, it would serve him well NOT to antagonize the smaller but growing Malay voter segment who may be the future leaders of this nation and who want a commitment to the rule of law.

It may be well for him to return to the PH, restore the mandate of the GE14 and prove to this nation and the world that he stands for the rule of law and will conform to it. There will have to be give and take. My own feeling is that unless the original GE14 mandate of the people is fully restored, political stability will remain elusive and we will not be able to move forward.

 

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.

 

 

A taste of Malay/Malaysian politics

So, a Malay-majority Cabinet has been foisted on us. It is predominantly Malay and supposed to represent the majority of Malays. But, is it?

What is apparent is that the leaders had or have their own individual agendas as one Malay friend puts it. In the series of events that took place in the last three weeks, it is clear that leaders seized the opportunity that presented itself for their own self-serving interests. Were the peoples’ interests considered? What more benefits will the people receive as a result of this government? Was the mandate of the people in the 14th General Election respected or discarded as irrelevant?  Whatever happened to democratic processes?

Even if this government wins a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat, what proof is there that they represent the majority of Malays? It only proves that the appointees got what they wanted and vested interests were protected. Only a general election will show what the people want. The events of the past three weeks only show what the leaders want. And, they got it: position and the perks that come with it.

But, at what risk! When now Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister Azmin Ali formed a pact with Umno as a bloc, accepting to work with Umno leaders facing criminal charges in court, what were they thinking? Going against their boss, the then Prime Minister and Bersatu chairman, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad? This triggered the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Realising he lost the support of his own party and majority support in PH with a significant faction of PH partner Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) now with Muhyiddin, he did the right thing. He resigned, which was used by others to get ahead and to protect their own personal interests.

As a result, the government of the people by the people fell. In its place is an appointed government. How will these leaders face the people? They have no choice but to put up pretences, smile to the camera and carry on. How will these leaders hold their own in the international community? Will nations who place a premium on democratic processes recognize this government and want to work with it?

This is an inexperienced government. Is it able to tackle the urgent twin problems of the Covid-19 pandemic and a worsening economy? They seized the opportunity to govern. Time will tell if they will deliver. Though I do not support the way they seized power, for the sake of the nation, I wish them well.

How did we get to this place? Veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin explains it well when he wrote in his blog recently: “Political naivety coupled with high ambitions and greed among many Bersatu leadership council members have led to their betrayal of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.” To this, I add, a lack of consideration for consequences.

Did they consider the consequences of working with Umno as a bloc, accepting leaders facing criminal charges in court? Did they consider they would be breaking up a legitimate government elected by the people? Did they consider if they can handle the task of governing in the face of the current realities of the Covid-19 pandemic and a struggling economy? Did they consider or they didn’t care, as long as they had government posts?

Perhaps, at the back of their mind, they think that if they can’t handle the stress of the tasks before them they can always seek help from others, like the Sultans and countries like China and Saudi Arabia known for giving financial aid to unpopular leaderships. That means we will be going back to Umno politics and the wheeling and dealing that dragged so many into corruption which we sought to get rid of.

The naive generally don’t think of consequences and don’t assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Now Muhyiddin wants Mahathir’s endorsement, to which the elder leader said he wants “to see how he handles those who are facing the courts”. If Muhyiddin delivers up to his expectations, Mahathir — like a forgiving father who, despite the mistakes his children make, may nevertheless help. That’s Malay politics. But, I hope and pray that whatever he does will be for the good of the nation.

The rest of us are also expected to understand Malay politics and help, which, as fellow Malaysians, we will do — just as we did when the majority of non-Malays joined forces with the minority but discerning Malay leadership in the PH and booted out Najib and Umno. That should go on record. That’s true-blue Malaysian politics!