Tag Archives: muhyiddin

Take a leaf out of the UK’s book to choose a PM

The United Kingdom is in the midst of a race to elect the next prime minister after incumbent prime minister Boris Johnson resigned on July 7. What makes it an event to take note of here in Malaysia is that — unlike in Malaysia — the prime minister’s resignation was NOT followed by a period of political instability.

Johnson resigned as a result of a wave of resignations from his Cabinet and government which triggered a series of events that led to the loss of support of his party for his premiership. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also resigned when he realised that he had lost the support of his then party, Bersatu, which had engineered an alliance that included Umno leaders Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Najib Razak who are facing corruption charges in court.

When a prime minister loses the support of his party or the voters who elected him/her, he/she should resign. That is democracy.

The political instability that followed Tun Mahathir’s resignation is still reverberating through the country while the UK is going through its change of prime minister calmly through an organised, orderly process of electing the next prime minister. That begs the question as to why Malaysian politicians failed to ensure political stability when a prime minister resigned.

There are several factors to take note of to explain this dismal failure in political accountability. Firstly, in the UK government, there wasn’t any predator politician or a cohort of them waiting in the wings to seize the opportunity offered by the resignation of a prime minister to advance their own agendas.

The prime minister resigned but his party or coalition remains the elected government. When Johnson resigned, his Cabinet fell as well but he and his Cabinet remain in government until a new prime minister is elected. That is the democratic convention in a parliamentary democracy-cum-constitutional monarchy.

Johnson’s party, the Conservative Party, is recognised as the elected government and no one attempts to seize the opportunity the instability of a transition offered to force himself or herself and his or her team into government; that’s a coup. The mandate of the people is respected and left untouched while the resigning prime minister’s party undertakes the responsibility of electing the next prime minister.

But, did that happen in Malaysia? No, Malaysian politicians disrespected the mandate of the people and installed themselves as the government as if it were their right, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they were not following democratic conventions and that that is not the rule of law!

Secondly, how did Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin become prime minister? Did his party nominate him? What was the process according to the party’s constitution? Was the process of nominating a prime minister described in the party’s constitution? Or, did he assume as party president that position was automatically his, and his supporters in the party went along with it? Perhaps, it was decided at a meeting of his top party leaders but was there a proper nomination and election process?

UK’s Conservative Party has a clear and orderly process with a committee that oversees the election of a prime minister when the incumbent resigns. They go through rounds of election by the party’s elected MPs until the candidate with the highest vote in the final round emerges as the prime minister-elect, which, in the current situation, is expected to be announced in early September. It’s a long and tedious process and no one rushes it, with the interim prime minister and his Cabinet running the government until then.

In Malaysia, prospective prime ministers unilaterally announced they are the chosen candidates of their parties. Muhyiddin never claimed it but through a series of political pacts, he became prime minister. Without following democratic conventions he named Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob as prime minister and Muhyiddin’s legacy of an illegitimate government continues.

Tun Mahathir has said his party wants him to be the next prime minister if his new party, Pejuang, wins the next general election. PKR president has announced that he would reduce petrol prices if he becomes PM. It’s a political party’s right to name its candidate for the premiership. But is it an arbitrary decision or a name that emerges at the end of a nomination or election process?

Political parties need to spell out clearly in their constitutions the process of how to choose a prime minister. It then becomes clear to the public that the majority in the party chose the candidate and it is a choice that must be respected.

The only party that has a clear nomination and election process is Umno. It is Umno’s tradition that the president becomes the prime minister if Umno or an Umno-led coalition wins. How Sabri became the prime minister is a break from tradition. Again it was an arbitrary decision made by Muhyiddin and the country — like everything after the Sheraton Moves — was stuck with an unelected choice!

While the UK’s Conservative Party is choosing its next prime minister, Parliament gets ready for a vote of confidence. Again this is the democratic convention. A government must prove to the people it has a majority and the only way to show it is through a vote of confidence/no-confidence. This is not a negotiable issue and the British Parliament practices it without debate.

Did the Malay-majority government led by Muhyiddin follow this fundamental principle of the rule by a majority which is the basis of any democracy? Definitely no. What followed was simply to use their positions and pacts to ensure they remained in government. The current so-called “Malay-majority” government needs to ask itself if it followed the rule of law or bent it to keep itself in government.

A third factor to note is the role of the Queen. The Queen has not breathed a word about the political changes taking place in her realm. She does not intervene but leaves it to the politicians to resolve the issues on their own. The politicians know their role. They don’t involve the Queen. According to a recent BBC report, once the Conservative Party has chosen the next prime minister, he/she will be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen who — on the advice of the ruling party — appoints a new prime minister.

Did we follow a similar process? No. Instead, our politicians went racing to the palace to show proof of majority, and, somehow, Muhyiddin, got installed as prime minister although he didn’t prove he had the numbers.

The point is that the party chooses the prime ministerial candidate who then goes to Parliament — not to the king or the royals — to face a confidence vote to prove that the candidate has the support of the majority of the House. When that is demonstrated for the public to see, the invitation comes from Buckingham Palace to meet the Parliament-approved candidate who is then appointed prime minister on the advice of the party.

Malaysian politicians need to understand that all political issues involving the people must be resolved among themselves and finalised in Parliament. They should have enough confidence in themselves to resolve all political crises by themselves without seeking the help of the king or sultans. Then, we won’t have a case of an unmandated menteri besar or one who receives fancy shoes from royals!

Malaysian politicians have to understand how parliamentary democracy-cum-constitutional monarchy works and there is no better example to consider than the people who first set it up — the British.

Hopefully, Malaysian politicians are following the UK PM race and learning how to conduct themselves as responsible self-respecting politicians. If they can’t learn and correct themselves, then, it is crystal clear that they should not be reelected.

Just consider what happened in the past two years: abuse of power through double standards, intimidating political policing, an Attorney-General’s Chambers that allowed out-of-court settlements involving politicians, a Dewan Rakyat Speaker who has failed to understand that his overriding responsibility is to ensure the independence of the House and not to protect the government, poor governance, weak efforts at recovery and bungling incompetence. Only the judiciary remains an uncompromised institution.

The country can’t afford further decline at the hands of this batch of leaders. Only the people can stop them by voting them out and voting in leaders who know what the rule of law is and uphold it. Otherwise, we will be freely offering garlands to monkeys.

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!

How to beat the Najib factor

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin gave lengthy explanations to assure critics that all the data on MySejahtera is solely owned by the government. He further justified the viability of the app after its check-in function is retired as a base to build a digitised medical record system.

However, he failed to address the crux of the matter which is whether the “business arrangement” the government made with the app’s developer, KPIsoft (now known as Entomo (M) Sdn Bhd) was a result of direct negotiation or open tender.

Amidst all the explanations given that remains the unanswered question. Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob could have cast some light on the matter but he’s not around or recovering from a hectic trip to Qatar. He must be the only head of state who makes frequent official trips abroad during this pandemic — to Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Qatar — presumably to boost trade the outcome of which is mainly to open travel lanes, which he could have done via a telephone call!

While Sabri was away, his coalition partners were busy lining up to meet Pejuang chairman and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Perikatan Nasional (PN) partner Bersatu’s president Muhiyiddin Yassin had met up with Tun to ask for support to enable him (Muhyiddin) to be prime minister again. It seems PAS president Hadi Awang is also expected to meet up with Tun. Both may be manoeuvering to form a majority government in an alliance with Pejuang.

The above events simply indicate that the top leadership is absent in more ways than one and it is time for a general election (GE) to replace the current leadership so that we have a prime minister who is elected and who actually leads!

But, will a GE solve the leadership problem? If the current alliances do not change, it will not. That, perhaps, is why both Bersatu and PAS are looking to form a new alliance with Pejuang or vice versa.

Political parties and MPs need to be certain who they ally with. There are two parties to avoid at all cost: Umno, of course, with its court cluster leadership and PAS. PAS plays the field, seeing which party to ally with in the name of the so-called ummah but it had no problems standing by and watching while Muhyiddin — in the name of the ummah — broke up the ummah by sacking Tun and a few others. These same people are seeking Tun’s help now. How ironical! Let the people judge for themselves the nature of these politicians.

If Pejuang accommodates these two leaders, it will be alienating itself from the urban-based parties with whom is the best possibility for a coalition with a majority.

However, if MPs from Bersatu and PAS want to join Pejuang, that should be welcomed, in fact, encouraged!

PAS like Umno must be isolated because both are a threat to the multi-racial fabric that holds Malaysian society together. PAS will play the religious card in exchange for votes. That is unacceptable.

Umno, led by the court cluster, is the most imminent threat to the nation. If it is not isolated and comes back to power to lead the nation, the supremacy of the federal constitution will be at risk. That is what is at stake here.

Led by desperadoes president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and adviser and former prime minister Najib Razak, Umno will be willing to compromise the federal constitution to give constitutional monarchy sway over parliamentary democracy if in doing so they can get a royal pardon and escape sentencing that might mean a jail term, or for any other reason deemed fit for them.

Look at Johor. The mandate of the people was overruled by the decision of the Sultan over the choice of Mentri Besar and Umno did not fight for the people. With regard to the Maharani Energy Gateway project, according to Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the Department of Environment had allegedly taken down an environmental impact assessment for the project from its official website after he raised concerns over a reclamation project linked to the Johor Sultan.

The EIA is a public document. Why was it removed? Apart from Syed Saddiq, who are speaking up for the people? PKR and DAP assemblypersons aren’t because they can’t. They were seen in photographs with the Johor royalty.

We can not afford to have a similar situation at the federal level where constitutional monarchy assumes a superior position over parliamentary democracy. Just like in Johor, that may happen if Umno comes back to power led by the court cluster.

That is the reason why Umno must be defeated and removed from all political equations.

There are four possible ways to achieve this objective.

Firstly, if Umno members can remove the court cluster from their leadership positions, they will save their party and it can be considered a possible ally. But that hasn’t happened and if at all it happens it will happen next year when party elections are held. That’s too long a wait.

Secondly, Umno MPs can leave the party and join other parties. That’s the best course of action if they want to protect the constitution rather than put money in their pockets. Well, they should do it before the anti-hopping bill is passed.

Thirdly, break all ties with Umno whether through a coalition at the state or federal level or the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)with Pakatan Harapan (PH). Who knows, PH parties may win back the support they lost as a result of the MoU.

Frankly, after being thrown out of the state government in Johor by its coalition partner, PN should have resigned from the government at the federal level. Understandably that might be a difficult thing to do as it would trigger both federal and state elections. So, PN parties need to tolerate their awkward position a little longer.

If none of the above happens, then, the last and fourth solution is to call for a general election. If PN or Umno leaves the government or the MoU is ended and not extended, it would trigger a general election.

Apart from Umno, no other party or coalition wants a general election because they are not confident they can win enough seats to form a coalition with a majority. But if Umno is isolated, all the other parties can negotiate to form a coalition with a majority, perhaps even a two-thirds majority.

It’s a possible scenario if the over-riding objective is to defeat Umno rather than manoeuvre to become prime minister. The candidate for the prime ministership should be one who can get the support of the majority.

For the fourth scenario to happen one very important factor needs to be recognized. The new coalition or parties in that coalition must be able to win some of the seats in Umno’s strongholds and a few more Malay-majority urban seats.

For these voters, the issues are survival and essentials. Multi-culturalism, criticisms of race-based politics and other such favourite middle-class and urban issues will fall on deaf ears. Urban voters need to understand this and refrain from accusing those who can reach the rural and urban poor because without their votes Umno will win, and we can say goodbye to parliamentary democracy!

A general election is the best solution to be free from the Najib factor if Umno can be isolated before that. Between now and then the voters need to be watching: Which MP or party will choose to act to isolate Umno and save parliamentary democracy or stay put and save their pockets? We will then know who to vote for.

What went wrong

Perikatan Nasional (PN) leader Muhyiddin Yassin’s 17-month government will go down in history as the only government Malaysia has had so far that failed to prove its majority. From Day 1, he circumvented the issue when he should have faced a no-confidence vote in Parliament which until the last day, he never did.

In not facing a no-confidence vote, he showed an unwillingness to follow democratic conventions and adhering to the words, intent and spirit of the federal constitution. Instead, he made decisions according to his own judgement or on the advice of the people he surrounded himself with.

He insisted soon after he was sworn in that the Agong had sworn him in and that was enough to prove his legitimacy. He failed to understand that when a prime minister resigns or a government falls from a lack of majority, it is followed by a period of political fluidity where political positions can change quickly and that in the spirit of democratic competition such changes must be accommodated.

When Muhyiddin was nominated as prime minister in February last year, he may have had a majority according to the statutory declarations (SD) his supporters made. But, at the same, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad got PKR’s support and the support of other MPs with a total of 113 which means Muhyiddin didn’t have a majority. Muhyiddin jumped the gun and went ahead with the swearing in when Tun’s majority should have been tested.

Soon after, Tun was expelled from Bersatu and he took a number of MPs out of PN with him leaving Muhyiddin without a majority. That was the beginning of Muhyiddin’s efforts to lure MPs over to his side with all sorts of baits.

This is history but the point is that Muhyiddin thus could not prove his majority and, hence, his legitimacy was always questioned. If he had faced a no-confidence vote earlier on, the MPs might have booted him out and we may have better managed the pandemic. The reason for all the political instability that followed was due to the fact that Muhyiddin did not follow the procedures demanded by democratic conventions such as backing off when another MP claims he has a majority and/or facing a no-confidence vote. Both claims should be tested.

Muhyiddin made the same mistake in the current political situation. When the Agong called the 114 MPs who supported Umno’s candidate Ismail Sabri Yaacob to be the next prime minister, he said PN’s support for Sabri was conditional. Constitutionally, as pointed out by lawyer and activist Ambiga Sreenevasan, support for a PM must be unconditional otherwise there might be a change later and the government may fall again. Umno, aware of the significance of the comment, has decided to meet later to discuss its implications before making a decision.

But Muyhiddin’s ex-aide clarified that it is nothing unusual, failing to comprehend that when it comes to a prime minister, it is of great significance. But, that is Muhyiddin’s way: can be a little lax on following the constitution for the sake of political expediency. Look where it has got us.

After the meeting with the Agong, it was reported that Sabri left with outriders. His team must have thought they were going to be sworn in and Sabri named prime minister and hence outriders would be needed to escort the new prime minister. Again, whoever provided him the service — probably under Muhyiddin’s advice — jumped the gun thinking the Agong would repeat the way he swore in Muhyiddin’s team. They just didn’t understand that nothing is final until it is official.

It is a reflection of the lack of knowledge of parliamentary procedures that was the hallmark of Muhyiddin’s tenure.

This time around, the Agong wants to make sure he is truly appointing someone with a majority and so had called the 114 MPs to individually ask them to state their stand. He has also said that the appointed prime minister must face a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat.

The Agong must be credited for nudging the MPs to uphold parliamentary democracy. He kept advising Muhyiddin to face a no-confidence vote in the special Dewan Rakyat sitting but Muhyiddin kept delaying preferring to resign or hold elections knowing fully well that the latter would be impossible in the midst of the raging pandemic. So he resigned.

If he had understood the significance of a no-confidence vote, he would have taken the risk and faced it. In a no-confidence vote, MPs are free to vote anyway they like, and, who knows, he might have won. But, we’ll never know because Muhyiddin had no confidence in a no-confidence vote.

It is really pathetic that it is the Agong who is seen advising the prime minister, Cabinet and MPs on following the tenets of parliamentary democracy when it should be the latter group who should be advising the Agong on the procedures to follow. I wonder if he is being adequately advised by the Attorney-General.

How can we allow such MPs to lead a parliamentary democracy? No one in the Umno-PN camp right now should be allowed to govern until leaders are raised from their ranks who demonstrate a clear understanding and commitment to the federal constitution.

In a couple of hours we’ll know who will be our prime minister. I hope the Agong chooses wisely.

What a mess! But, there’s a way out

In a statement today, Umno vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that it was better for Umno to quit the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition and to work towards forming an interim government. Yesterday, it was reported that former prime minister and Umno adviser Najib Razak said that Umno supports the PN coalition but not PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin.

Their statements imply that Umno is still with the PN-lead coalition. That seems to have been assumed but it is an incorrect position. Umno is NOT a member of the PN. PN members are Bersatu — Muhyiddin’s minority party that leads the coalition — and PAS. All the other parties in the PN-led coalition such as Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Parti Bersatu Sabah, STAR, MIC and MCA and Umno are partners with the PN in the PN-led coalition.

The difference is significant. A member party of a coalition can withdraw its support for the incumbent PM yet not leave the coalition unless it chooses to. That party remains in the coalition and at its top-level meeting expresses its withdrawal of support for the incumbent PM and negotiates for a replacement. The constitution of the coalition must state the rules and guidelines for such a possibility.

A partner in a coalition, on the other hand, does not come under the rules of the coalition for members. It’s a partner — not a member. If a party that is a partner in a coalition withdraws support for the incumbent PM, it removes itself from that coalition. A partner in a coalition can not say it is withdrawing support for the incumbent PM but allows its members to remain in the coalition in support of the PM. That doesn’t make sense. It is an absurd position.

When a party that is a partner in a coalition withdraws its support for the incumbent PM it is equivalent to withdrawing support for the government the PM leads. That party automatically is out of the coalition. So, whether you say you no longer support the PM or the government it leads, it is the same.

On July 8, Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that Umno was withdrawing its support for Muhyiddin and called on the latter to resign, which means the Cabinet would resign, which means the PN-led government would fall. That, in effect, means withdrawing its support for the PN-led government, which means the PN-led government fell on July 8.

The PN-led government, however, continued in government as if Umno’s withdrawal meant nothing at all, since, after all, Attorney General Idrus Harun said it was “not clear” if PN had lost its majority as a majority is not determined by a party statement.

Does Idrus know how coalition politics work? How else can a party that is a partner in a coalition express its withdrawal of support if not by a statement? If the government is doubtful, then it should call for a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. It doesn’t do that but continues as if the largest partner in its coalition didn’t resign.

This doesn’t make sense. It just isn’t done, unless maybe in a banana republic!

It doesn’t make it any easier that the nine Umno MPs in the PN Cabinet openly defied their president to show that they support Muhyiddin. They are not PN members. It’s puzzling why Zahid doesn’t discipline them.

Zahid and the nine Umno MPs must realise that they can take over the leadership of the PN-led government only if the PN and all partners in the coalition agree to it. Zahid will fail because he has pulled his party Umno out of the PN-led coalition. The nine MPs will also fail because they can’t represent their party which is no longer in the same coalition; they can only represent themselves. It’s doubtful either will get majority support.

The fact is that Umno has left the PN-led coalition. That means Muhyiddin has lost its majority — since July 8. It remains in government illegitimately and revoking the emergency ordinances without announcing it and conducting a Dewan Rakyat session where MPs are powerless to debate and vote on annulling or accepting the emergency ordinances are a cowardly cover-up to not prove its majority.

The Agong has publicly rebuked the PN-led government for not keeping to the word given to him about conducting a Dewan Rakyat session to debate and vote on the emergency ordinances. He has declared that he has not assented to the revocation of the emergency ordinances.

Muhyiddin said he did advise the Agong about the revocation through a letter but in defence of himself against the Agong’s public rebuke, he invoked Article 40 (1) of the federal constitution which states that the Agong acts on the advice of the prime minister.

But wasn’t the special Dewan Rakyat called specifically to debate and accept or annul the emergency ordinances? That was circumvented by the July 21 revocation of the ordinances.

So, now, Muhyiddin is not only without a majority and continuing in government despite it, but he has apparently antagonised the Agong, the very person who swore him and his cohorts into government.

By right, he should resign but it is doubtful that he would. The only solution to move forward is NOT an interim government. It will not have the support of the majority of the MPs and the chaotic politicking will continue thwarting attempts to control the covid 19 pandemic quickly and effectively. Besides, Muhyiddin will preempt it.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal of a National Recovery Council is the solution and a chance for a way out and a reset. Hopefully, a majority of MPs will rally behind him and make a representation to the Agong that they would be supportive of that endeavour. Since we are still under emergency, the Agong can do it and save the day.

PN’s untenable position

So, why are the nine Umno MPs still in the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition? Why is coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin accommodating them and keeping them in the Cabinet? Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has already withdrawn Umno’s support for Muhyiddin so why is the latter still keeping these rebellious MPs in his Cabinet?

Very openly he is baiting them with government positions to ensure he has the numbers to remain in government. At the same time Zahid is not disciplining his errant MPs which means there might be behind-the-scenes haggling going on for Umno to remain in PN for some gains advantageous to the Zahid faction in Umno. Watch their court cases; see what happens there.

All this is indisciplined, chaotic Malay politics and to be expected but is it ethical of Muhyiddin to use government positions and resources to play Malay politics? Isn’t that an abuse of power and position?

In Malaysia, a national leader must know there is a boundary between using the government to serve the people and using it to serve his or her own personal agenda. If in your eyes the boundary is blurred, then you are too simple-minded to distinguish between what is right and wrong and will do wrong without batting an eyelid resulting in the kind of problems we have been witnessing since the Sheraton moves.

It is understandable that Muhyiddin wants PN to have a majority. But, it is totally unacceptable that without a majority he unconstitutionally clings to the government to achieve it. He should resign and seek to obtain a PN majority outside of government, then stand for election and win it. Then he has the right to govern.

It is reprehensible that he is using government positions and resources to gain that majority. That is unethical and contravenes the constitution and must not be tolerated.

Malay politicians need to understand that only those who can’t compete according to the rules or are afraid to compete according to the rules for fear of losing, cheat and resort to political chicanery and treachery to win.

That is the picture the PN is painting of its politicians. That’s how the discerning public, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian or East Malaysian perceives PN politicians: unable to fight fair according to the rules. That is the reason the PN doesn’t have the support of the more knowledgeable urban Malays and non-Malays.

In an interview published today in Malaysiakini, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said that the PN reflects a Malay-based coalition and that the people (Malay majority) are comfortable with Muhyiddin. That may be true — only because they don’t know any better. Even if the PN did wrong they would not know what was going on. If they did, they may take to the streets. The politically more astute urban Malays and non-Malays do not trust Muhyiddin. We know what he’s up to. The PN can fool their supporters but it can’t fool us.

Their supporters may not realise it, but their PN leaders have without a qualm used their trust to set themselves up in a backdoor government and what have the people gained from it? They are still struggling to put food on the table. Worst still, the people are experiencing a runaway pandemic with 15,573 active cases and 144 deaths reported today despite the so-called “government effort”. Apart from giving money what has the PN done to stimulate economic recovery and control the pandemic?

Businesses are closing down every day. Jobs are scarce. Now, we don’t know if we have been genuinely vaccinated or just jabbed with empty syringes! Doesn’t this Malay-majority coalition know its people well enough to know that under stress they lose it and don’t know what they do, and proactively prevent it from happening? Is the PN governing or simply keeping everything running — even if badly — so that they can continue using government positions and resources to prop itself up?

Is that the type of Malay-majority leadership we want? One that fails to set the example of following the constitution?

Even with the special parliamentary session beginning next Monday, we don’t know what to expect. Already the MPs are complaining that the Dewan Rakyat sitting starting on July 26 does not follow standing orders and is only a series of lectures by ministers. Should by a twist of fate a vote of no confidence is introduced and PN loses, will PN continue to stay on in government with the Attorney-General making another statement that it is “not clear” that the session was legitimate?

The PN does not play by the rules so we have no reason to believe it would abide by the result of a no-confidence vote.

Contrary to Zuraida’s opinion that now is a bad time to oust Muhyiddin, it is the best time. If he remains in government Parliament will be dragged out to give him time to use the advantage of incumbency to work out a deal with one or the other of the factions in Umno so that he gets the majority to pass the Budget to get more money to spend to ensure voter support in the event of a general election.

He may think that with expedited vaccination in the Klang Valley the pandemic will be controlled and elections can be called. It will not. The virus will continue spreading and it would just be a matter of time before it spreads beyond the Klang Valley if aggressive testing, contact tracing and vaccination do not continue nationwide.

A change of administration now will preempt Muhyiddin from making deals in favour of a defeated party like Umno by using government positions and influencing institutions, ensure control of the pandemic and facilitate economic recovery.

That can only be good for the nation. No party or person who shows no proof of majority should be allowed to continue to sit in government. It is immoral and undemocratic.

The case for a National Recovery Council

It is apparent to all Malaysians and the world that the Umno Members of Parliament staying put in the Prihatin Nasional(PN)-led coalition are doing so in open defiance of their party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who announced last week that Umno was withdrawing its support for PN head Muhyiddin Yassin.

Party members have the right to disagree with their leaders but is it ethical of them to use their ministerial positions in the Cabinet to do so? Isn’t it abuse of position? If they want to defy their president that is party politics and should be dealt with in the party not outside the party, and definitely not by using their Cabinet positions to do so. As it is, Zahid is now in the position to discipline his rebellious MPs. And, I hope he does.

It seems Umno MP Ismail Sabri Yaakub had told Zahid of his pending appointment to the DPM’s post by Muhyiddin a day before Zahid announced Umno’s withrawal from the PN-led coalition. But was this appointment made in consultation with Sabri’s party president? Shouldn’t the coalition leader consult with his partner party’s head before making such an important appointment? We don’t know if Muhyuiddin did. But, isn’t that the protocol? Was it followed?

If it wasn’t followed, it would be a slap to Zahid and he, understandably, had a reason to not want to support Muhyiddin.

Whatever the real reasons that prompted Zahid to act, the fact is he has severed support for Muhyddin, which means PN no longer has a majority. So, why is it still governing? Why are its MPs oblivious to the fact that they are supporting a coalition that has lost its majority and that that is unconstitutional? Why are they in cahoots with PN when they fully know it is unconstitutional?

The fact that the nine Umno MPs have pledged their support for Muhyiddin does not mean that the latter has a majority. Umno’s 38 MPs are no longer with the PN. The nine, including the Umno DPM, are no longer representing their party. They are in the PN Cabinet in their individual capacities and supporting an unelected and unconstitutional minority government.

Attorney-General Idrus Harun has gone to the PN’s defence by saying that the federal constitution says only MPs in a Dewan Rakyat session can determine if a prime minister has the support of the majority and majority support is not determined “through a statement by a political party or any political party leader”.

By his own admission he has disqualified the PN because PN had claimed through its statements by PN leader Muhuyiddin that it had a majority when it offered itself as the next government when the Pakatan Harapan government fell in February last year. Till this day PN has failed to prove its majority fully aware that the federal constitution demands it and yet Idrus continues to support it and work for it.

Everyone one in the PN-led coalition knows they are in an unconstitutional government but not one will stand up for the federal constitution.

That is the trademark of the PN leadership: constitutional or not is immaterial but at all cost use the advantage of incumbency to retain power.

That being the mentality of the PN, can anyone in his or her rightful mind expect it to adhere to the federal constitution? We can scream and shout and pull a tantrum but they will remain unmoved, giving their regular press conferences and national addresses that bring no real benefits to the people.

Despite billions of ringgit worth of stimulus packages, emergency and MCOs and CMCOs and EMCOs, the pandemic isn’t contained. The pandemic is simply running its own course, unmitigated by government efforts. It will end when it ends.

Anyone will tell you that the reason why we are having high figures is due to late aggressive testing, contact tracing and vaccination which should have started much earlier like in the second half of last year. It didn’t happen then but started several months ago by which time the virus had spread, unchecked. We are seeing the results now.

But the PN will not assume responsibility for its inability to contain it, giving all sorts of explanations to justify its lack of skills and ability — “only God can stop it”! But New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore succeeded without putting the blame on God!

These are the kind of people in the PN.

If they were committed to parliamentary democracy, they would have facilitated a confidence or no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat a long time ago and proven their majority. If they couldn’t get the majority they would have resigned.

By now, the people, and especially the MPs, must know that the PN is not committed to parliamentary democracy. They have made a mockery of Parliament, the special parliamentary session beginning on July 26 is a case in point. The session is a briefing session without motions and debates, MPs say.

The PN will do everything it can NOT to prove its majority but to remain in power. MPs need to realise that insisting on adherence to the federal constitution will just fall on deaf ears.

You have to play the game the way they play it. Bypass them just as they bypassed Parliament. Go straight to the Agong.

That is the reason why I believe former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal for a National Recovery Council is the best way to preempt the PN now. PN feels strong because it knows the majority of MPs are against it.

But, if the majority of MPs back Tun’s proposal especially now that he has said he would be willing to leave Pejuang, the party he founded and of which he is chairman, if he is accepted to chair the council as an apolitical organisation, the Agong may consider it.

If the Agong institutes it, PN will be ousted. When the council has achieved its aim of containing the covid 19 pandemic, it can end and we revert to parliamentary democracy.

It is the only way out now. Otherwise, this is going to be dragged out, giving Muhyiddin time to form a new alliance with Umno when the latter resolves its leadership tussle in due time.

Think carefully. Don’t dismiss the National Recovery Council. It’s an option that will bring parliamentary democracy back in the near future. With Muhyiddin, it will be the end of parliamentary democracy as we know it.

Our fortunes will turn if …

I like Zunar’s latest cartoon in Malaysiakini. He draws two flights of steps on either side of the frame. On the left is Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin midway on the steps. On the right is the covid 19 virus also midway on the steps but with an admonishing finger at Muhyiddin and the quote written beneath: “Kalau lu tak turun, wa tak turun!” (If you don’t come down, I won’t come down!)

Zunar’s cartoon graphically says what I have always suspected but never articulated until now. Now is a good time to say it because after more than one year of lockdown we are worse off now after PN seized control of the government in February last year than before.

The poor are getting poorer. Businesses are shutting down. More people are getting mental illnesses. The Covid 19 death count remains high. People are frustrated by the continuation of an ineffective Movement Control Order. These are the facts and are daily reported in the media but the PN remains unmovable occupying a government without proving its majority.

Now, it is yet to convene a special session of Parliament before the Aug 1 deadline for the end of the emergency. Instead, PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin is hospitalised for diarrhoea and cancelled his weekly meeting with the Agong before the Wednesday Cabinet meeting. Is he really sick or is it another of his political ploys to remain in government?

The management of the pandemic has set this nation backwards, thanks to a leadership that couldn’t maintain our relatively high standing among other nations. Malaysia’s placing in the Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking in June this year is at 51 out of 53 countries ranked for progress in reopening amid the Covid-19 pandemic. We are only ahead of the Philippines and Argentina.

The World Bank on June 23 projected Malaysia’s economic growth at 4.5 % this year compared to Bank Negara Malaysia’s projected forecast of between 6 and 7%. Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had stated on June 1 that the forecast could be lowered.

White flags are going up everywhere signalling a cry for basic essentials in a sign that the white flag movement is gaining momentum. The movement urges people to fly a white flag at their homes if they want basic essentials.

Suicide rates are going up. In a June 29 report, news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) quoted health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah as saying that the 336 cases of suicides in the first three months of this year was more than half of what was reported throughout 2020. In other words, there was an average of four suicides every day in the first three months of the year.

There were 84 Covid 19 deaths yesterday bringing the total death tally to 5,254 and 6,988 new cases. As of November last year, 30,000 businesses had shut down. Daily, we hear of businesses shutting down.

Just two years ago we were said to be on track to attain developed status but from the way the PN managed the pandemic we now have to stretch out our hands to get free vaccines from Japan and the US. We can’t afford to buy our own vaccines. We have become a charity case.

In other words, the PN has failed to lead Malaysia to help ourselves. We may not have hit rock bottom but we are only a short distance away.

That makes it clear that the day the PN coalition steps down from government, our fortunes will begin to change for the better. We’ll have a rightfully elected government which will have the support of the people to facilitate health and economic recovery.

Nearly at the bottom, we can only get better.

Tun’s NOC idea may be the much-needed solution

I have changed my mind. In my last post I said reconvening Parliament was a more urgently needed democratic priority than former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s idea of a National Operations Council (NOC) to solve the current political impasse. I now strongly believe that Tun’s plan may work and bring about the resolution all of us want.

There is only one reason — I emphasize “one” — why I believe that the NOC will solve the current political problem. Of all the criticisms levelled at him and the suggestions made in public debates, Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition leader Muhyiddin Yasin reacted only to one — Tun’s NOC plan. All others he has ignored. That suggests that Muhyiddin regards the NOC as a threat to his and PN’s survival. He dismissed it immediately through his principal private secretary, Marzuki Mohamad, who posted on Facebook why the NOC was “not suitable” to fight the covid 19 pandemic and revive the economy.

That reaction by Muhyiddin says that he sees the NOC as the only threat to PN’s survival. He was threatened enough to react to it. The reason should be obvious. The Agong alone can install the NOC and the unofficial prime minister will be able to do nothing about it.

The reconvening of Parliament, however, is in Muhyiddin’s hands. He can abide by the Agong’s call to reconvene Parliament but he can take his time about it. That’s the strategy he is employing now to prolong his stay in government.

Reconvening Parliament is no threat to him for two reasons. Firstly, he can push any no- confidence vote to the bottom of the agenda and it will not see the light of day. He wins; PN remains in government. Secondly, no group of MPs can form a majority coalition which means even if there’s a vote on his Budget, it will be passed. He wins; PN remains in government.

But a NOC? He has no control over! If it is set up, Muhyiddin and PN must step down. The Agong can dismiss him and his Cabinet as summarily as they were installed.

It would be a very good idea for PKR, the DAP, Amanah and Warisan to reach out to Tun to work with him on the NOC proposal and to present a united stand on managing the covid 19 pandemic through the NOC to the Agong. Other party members who are willing to forget about party affiliations can join in the effort. The NOC’s brief must be specific: To manage the covid 19 pandemic and facilitate economic recovery.

The NOC must also have an expiry date — six to eight months — with the possibility of an extension. The expiry date must not go beyond the date for the next general election, on or before 16 September 2023. If the pandemic is controlled, snap elections can be called before that or the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Plus government minus Bersatu — because it betrayed the PH — or any other temporary form of government can be installed by the Agong to govern until the next elections.

The terms of reference must be clearly spelt out to everyone’s satisfaction, even with regard to the prime minister’s candidacy. Tun has declared he doesn’t want to be PM again so, Anwar may get his chance finally.

Tun may be open to work with his former PH partners if Anwar abandons plans to form an alliance with the court cluster in Umno. It would be better for PKR because PKR will lose much support if it allies itself with the court cluster in Umno.

Muhyiddin is hoping that Selangor’s daily high number of active cases will come down to justify exiting his covid 19 plan on the basis that it worked. That belies the reality. Selangor is the only state that is implementing aggressive testing so naturally the figures will be high. Because it started earlier, its figures may eventually drop, by Muhyiddin’s estimation in September so that he can call for Parliament then to pass the Budget. Again, that’s his strategy to prolong his stay in power.

However, it is not known if all the other states are also aggressively testing for covid 19 cases to flush out the spreaders and isolate them. If they are not, and Muhyiddin exits the covid 19 plan, the pandemic would not be controlled. There may be future breakouts which will have to be dealt with with more MCOs which will disrupt the economy. In other words, Muhyiddin’s strategy is to extend PN’s tenure in government without resolving the covid 19 crisis and that will take this nation downhill.

That is the most logical and powerful justification for a NOC, which Tun has now renamed as the National Rehabilitative Council. Any policy to control the covid 19 pandemic must involve nationwide aggressive testing, contact tracing and supportive hospital care, vaccination and cooperation from both the public and private sectors. The figures will be initially high but as testing eventually eases, the figures will drop, including the death tally.

If the NOC succeeds — and it can — the NOC members would prove to the people that they have their interests at heart and that will work in their favour in a general election.

There is no time to lose. The former PH Plus partners and others need to come together to present a strong case to the Agong to set up Tun’s National Rehabilitative Council as a well-thought of concerted joint effort in bringing the covid 19 pandemic under control. They should not miss this opportunity.

No choice but to reconvene Parliament

So, the political circus has begun. The Agong is on a round of meetings with the leaders of political parties. There is some talk that Prihatin Nasional (PN) leader Muhyiddin Yassin is stepping down, that Sembrong MP (Umno) Hishamuddin Hussein currently in the former’s Cabinet may take over and MPs are frantically making statutory declarations to get positions in government.

A buzz of political activity! How, in any way, is this helping the people and more urgently providing a solution to arrest the high covid-19 death toll? Zilch! Zero effect!

What the people are seeing are simply politicians running around like headless chicken.

The reason why we are having covid-19 active cases and a death tally dangerously hovering at the cusp of a collapsed health system is because of a lack of top leadership. The recent surge in covid-19 cases hitting South Asian nations isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s the way the covid-19 virus is spreading. But the way each nation is managing it is a reflection of the abilities of the national leadership. In this respect Malaysia has performed dismally because our death toll rose swiftly steeply from around 300 in March this year to over 3,500 in just three months as of today.

This is a clear indication that the PN leadership has failed in effectively managing the covid-19 pandemic, for which it must hold itself responsible and step down.

In the face of that possibility, politicians are going beserk to see who and how they can take over. My two-bit, no body’s advice: Please stop the politicking and look to the federal constitution on the democratic ways to solve this problem.

One of the reasons why the PN has failed to control the spread of covid-19 in the country is because it is unable to get the support of the people. It’s surprising that a Malay-majority coalition touting itself as representative of the Malay majority can’t move its support base to abide by the Movement Control Order (MCO) and get vaccinated. That’s a reflection of an unable leadership.

The people apparently recognize double standards and have lost confidence in the leadership. This is also proof that an unelected government will never be able to get the voluntary support of the people. Most importantly, it shows a huge disconnect between the leaders and the people which the PN has failed to bridge.

If Muhyiddin refuses to call for the reconvening of Parliament, a National Operations Council (NOC) may seem like a solution in that all the excess fat of a 70-member Cabinet will be chopped off under a tight national leadership which will eliminate bickering among politicians as well, and the council can get down to the sole business of controlling the pandemic.

The NOC may work, but, I believe, Malaysian politicians need to learn and be trained to operate within the ambit of the federal constitution instead of finding solutions according to political expediency or practical real exigencies. The NOC is a practical solution but it won’t help to ingrain this very urgently needed characteristic of operating by the law among local politicians.

The solution is to return to Parliament. The strident calls and urgent clamour from across the nation must be to lift emergency and reconvene Parliament immediately.

Muhyiddin needs to advise the Agong on this immediately. He can no longer wait. And he must face a no-confidence vote because that is the requirement in a democratic country practising the government system of parliamentary democracy.

It may seem as if the Opposition is in disarray and a significant majority coalition is not evident. That should not be the reason why a no-confidence vote should not be called. Muhyiddin’s coalition has lost the confidence of the people and his leadership or the lack of it has become a liability to the nation. It’s untenable for him to remain in power.

Without a choice being presented to them, MPs may not choose decisively. But, when a choice is given in the form of a no-confidence vote, they will have no choice but to act decisively. This is how the federal constitution forces the MPs to act according to the law and our MPs need to demonstrate strict compliance with the federal constitution.

If Muhyiddin refuses to reconvene Parliament immediately it would be seen as a wilful action on his part to prevent resolution of the leadership issue and at the cost of more lives. If Muhyiddin wishes to salvage his reputation as a man of integrity, he will reconvene Parliament immediately and face a no-confidence vote.