Tag Archives: muhyiddin

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 biggest political ‘joke’ that isn’t funny

Like what veteran Umno politician and former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam said, the current political goings-on in the country is a real “joke”.

Indeed, it is. For Musa what was a joke was all the defections that are taking place now. For me, yes, that’s a joke but what is a more serious and real joke is that a coalition remains in government without proving its majority and uses its incumbent position to lure Opposition MPs to join it to get a majority! How absurd is that! How can that be constitutional? So funny!

What is even funnier is PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin taking a picture with two Opposition MPs who claimed to have become independent and defected to the PN and using that photo opportunity to announce, “I have 111 MPs”! How would he know if other MPs in his coalition still support him? What a joke!

Immediately after that announcement, Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he, too, had a majority.

Now, who really has the majority? Claiming a majority with a few defections isn’t proof of a majority. Besides, any MP can claim to have a majority.

A majority can only be proven when a party or coalition passes the test of a confidence vote in Parliament. Until that happens any coalition’s claim of a majority is questionable.

From the moment Muhyiddin was sworn in as prime minister, his majority in Parliament was suspect. From Day 1 in government, he sought to maintain a narrow majority by poaching MPs from the Opposition supposedly with all sorts of enticements.

Apparently, he was never certain of his majority because he was not willing to face a confidence or no-confidence vote to prove it. Questions can be asked as to whether that was constitutional. Secondly, when Muhyiddin lost his tenuous one-MP majority early this year, he didn’t resign. Following the loss of a majority, he sought emergency powers saying it was solely for the purposes of managing the covid-19 pandemic and continued to remain in government.

Like Musa, so many leaders and the public have called on Muhyiddin to prove his majority. The most recent was Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who withdrew his support from the PN coalition and in recent statements has declared that the PN needs to show its majority.

Despite the clamour over the PN’s legitimacy, it shows no inclination to prove its majority in the Dewan Rakyat though it has made a public claim it has “111 MPs” and refuses to resign. A real joke.

Now, the PN coalition has introduced an emergency fake news ordinance and, according to Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan, saying that the PN sought emergency because it lost its majority is fake news! Another joke!

I give up being rational and sensible! Too many jokers around.

Umno in strategic position to change its future course

Umno has officially declared that it will not join the Perihatin Nasional (PN) coalition in the next general elections. That might be a good move on Umno’s part if it reflects grassroots disillusionment with its coalition partner junior party Bersatu which wants to call the shots.

That grassroots disillusionment is a good sign; it shows that Umno’s Malay grassroots have realised that Umno’s majority position in PN will not be to its advantage if it undermines Bersatu’s desire to remain in power.

With Umno out of PN, PN can no longer claim that it is a Malay majority coalition. Any other coalition is now poised to assume the role of a Malay-majority grouping if Umno plays its cards wisely. Umno should be prepared to sacrifice its “court cluster” leaders facing criminal charges in court for the sake of political survival.

If Umno has severed ties with PN from the next general elections, why doesn’t it withdraw from PN now? It should heed its adviser Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s call for its “cluster of ministers” to resign from PN now to uphold its dignity.

Umno MPs in PN may not want to resign for the same reason PN doesn’t want to resign although it can’t prove its majority. These Malay MPs need to be in government to have access to funds to pour into their constituencies to ensure continued support.

Giving funds to MPs is not the issue. But to deprive Opposition MPs or coalition MPs who do not support the PN of such funds is childishly punitive.

But, that’s the PN’s style of leadership. Unable to use theirs skills or (perhaps, lacking in them) and resources at their disposal through negotiations and proper management, they resort to the big stick. If you don’t support PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin, we’ll punish you. If people will not abide by our requests with regard to covid-19, we’ll  seek emergency to force compliance. (They never thought that maybe they should dialogue with stakeholders to get their support or maybe they just don’t have abilities to do that and so threaten them with emergency.) If Umno threatens to pull out of PN, we’ll seek emergency from the Agong. If MPs want to question our legitimacy, we’ll advise the Agong to prorogue Parliament.

We need laws to protect the people from leaders who abuse their position in government for self-serving  interests. Any new government must also consider levelling the playing field for all MPs. Instead of the ruling government determining how much of government funds each MP gets, MPs’ allocations should be determined by Parliament with every MP getting the same amount. The allocation must be disbursed irrespective of which coalition is in government.

This will remove the need to switch parties or stay in government illegitimately in order to get funds to pacify voters so as to win elections.

So, yes, it is obvious why PN won’t resign and neither would Umno’s cluster of ministers in PN, although the latter should if it has any sense of dignity and allegiance and loyalty to the party.

The loss of government funds would only be for a short while if the new government reforms fund allocations to MPs. Hence, it would be advantageous for Umno’s cluster of ministers to resign. It shows they can’t be bought and that might work in their favour in the next general elections.

To make things easier, it might be better for Umno to pull out of PN now, thus, its cluster of ministers will have no choice but to resign. If they don’t, it means they have interests outside of Umno and that’s a big risk they would be taking because it may cost them votes in the next general elections.

If Umno pulls out of PN now, Parliament must be convened to test PN’s majority. If it loses a confidence vote, PN must resign.

That’s a cheaper and constitutionally correct way of testing support for a party or coalition then wielding the big stick of a general election which is very costly and will be disruptive in the aftermath of the pandemic and in which Bersatu stands to lose rather than gain.

A pause and a reset under Dr M is the way forward

It seems a little strange that the topic of an imminent general election has come up again when the Agong has said Parliament can be convened during the current Emergency, which suggests that the possibility of that happening precedes a general election.

So, why aren’t the politicians raising a hue and cry to call for the convening of a sitting of Parliament? Surely, that should be a priority so that they can establish the legitimacy of the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition since it has lost its majority, and demand its resignation?

The legitimacy of the PN government should be top on the agenda of any parliamentary sitting. The PN coalition should be made to comply with the Federal Constitution and if it doesn’t it should be removed and an example set so that future coup plotters know what to expect.

As I have said in my last post, the best option for the PN coalition now is to resign. It would save the Malay race, religion and royalty from any further embarrassment domestically and internationally than it has already caused. With the court cases that have been initiated against PN coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin, the PN needs to ask itself if it has made race, religion and royalty look good or made a spectacle of itself and these — the very things it claims to represent and stand for. Better to resign and save face.

The resignation of the PN coalition will result in one very good thing for the nation. It will halt the clamouring of Malay politicians to become the prime minister through illegitimate means. It will put national politics at pause, giving political parties a breathing space to examine their options and choose the right leaders to represent them in the future. Politics will be forced to return to the normal correct procedures of choosing leaders and short-cuts will be aborted, thus maintaining adherence to the federal constitution.

Calling for a general election now will simply continue the cockfights among competitors and the chaotic unconstitutional political environment. A pause will get politicians out of the cooking cauldron and gain a fresh perspective on the directions to take within the scope and leeway granted by the federal constitution.

Right now, the best person to manage the nation under pause is former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He has no future ambition except the good of the nation and during the pause he will also be able to reset the nation on course in accordance with the federal constitution.

The past year has shown several loopholes and the opportunities they offered to political parties to seize the government. Questions have to be raised and addressed so a repeat doesn’t happen. For example, when a ruling coalition loses power mid-term and another party or coalition claims a majority, should its nomination for prime minister be sworn in before facing a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat? If competing coalitions claim a majority, what is the process to test which coalition has a majority?

Can an interim prime minister call for a parliamentary session so that a coalition with a majority can be found and tested in Parliament? Who then should call for a Dewan Rakyat session and how?

When a party or coalition refuses to resign when it has lost its majority, how will it be removed? Should laws be set in place to empower an official in authority like the Opposition Leader or chief secretary to the government to speak to the Agong and advise him to direct the police and armed forces to escort the rogue and his cabinet of cohorts out of their offices? These are issues that need to be addressed.

In developed democracies, procedures are set in place so that leaders who stage a coup can be escorted out of office and that is the reason why they don’t have coups. When former US President Donald Trump threatened to refuse to recognise the results of the presidential elections and stay on in the White House, the democrats were calm, simplying stating that they knew what to do to get him out of office.

Our democracy was tested this past year and in anticipation of future claimants to power, laws and the correct procedures to facilitate a change of government in mid-term should be set in place so that an illegitimate government can not be formed.

Such changes may require a two-thirds majority for amendments to be made in the Dewan Rakyat and right now there’s only one person who can command such a majority and that is Tun Dr Mahathir.

Unlike other Malaysian political leaders, Tun knows the proper procedures to maintain constitutional integrity and he should be allowed to return as prime minister to reset the political temperature so that laws can be introduced or streamlined to ensure political instability is managed without disrupting the life of the nation.

Political leaders desiring to become the prime minister or parties wanting to lead the government should temporarily abandon their private agendas and ambitions and give Tun all the support he needs to form a majority government after the PN government resigns.

Tun would likely remain as prime minister until the next general elections, but, by that time, with the support of the majority, he would have set in place the right government structures to curb corruption and laws and regulations to make a coup in Malaysia impossible. Parliament must hold him to these ideals.

If Malaysian leaders genuinely put the nation first, those who should resign will resign and others will help Tun to form a coalition with a majority to take over.

A pause and a reset will pave the way for a more stable political future than what we have witnessed this past year and enable new leaders to emerge in the proper way, through their party channels and eventually through a general election.

The only option left for the PN coalition

I’m dumbfounded after reading a news report which quoted two local “political analysts” who claimed that the call for a parliamentary sitting was aimed at questioning the government’s legitimacy for having lost its majority.

In a Malaysiakini report today, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Azmi Hassan said, “The problem is when the Parliament sitting is exploited for political agenda, such as to pressure the prime minister to resign, to dissolve the Parliament, to question the majority, and so on.” And that it is not used for check-and-balance of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thinking along the same lines, another political analyst, Jeniri Amir, said that the Parliament sitting can be resumed “if the lawmakers only focus on five aspects – namely Covid-19, security, education, the people, and policy”.

Unbelievable! This coming from so-called scholars! Firstly, if such scholars need to be told that a government can’t operate unless it is legitimate, I don’t know if it’s worth considering their input. Secondly, if such scholars are advising the Prihatin Nasional (PN) coalition, then, it’s no wonder that the coalition refuses to resign from occupying the government of Malaysia.

I wonder if people who hold such notions understand democracy and democratic practices and conventions. The fundamental basis of democracy is rule by the majority. If a party or coalition can’t get a majority, it can’t rule.

Any democratic government must first establish it has the support of the majority. If it can’t prove that support, it can not rule. It’s as simple as that! Parliament’s role includes establishing if a ruling government has that majority. It’s not a case of “politicking”; it’s the MPs’ job to ensure that the votes of the majority are respected.

Scholars need to be told all this?

Does Muhyiddin Yassin, Bersatu president and head of the PN coalition, need to be told this? Is he adhering to democratic principles or using political expediency to remain as prime minister?

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, the PN coalition lost its majority. The PN government automatically fell on Jan 9 and it should have resigned and advised the Agong to call for a new government with a majority. But, it didn’t do that.

It continued to remain in government although it is now an occupying government — not elected, a minority and operating without legitimacy. On Jan 12,  the Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz (Umno) announced his withdrawal of support for Muhyiddin and the number of PN’s MPs went down to 109, clearly showing PN has lost its majority. Why didn’t PN resign?

Instead, as an illegitimate government, Muhyiddin ran to the Agong and sought for Emergency purportedly to manage the covid-19 pandemic, which he got, and when it was gazetted, the government prior to Jan 11 (the day he saw the Agong) was retroactively recognised as the government of the day. But, between Jan 9 and Jan 11, the PN coalition was an illegitimate government. So, an illegitimate government was allowed to rule under Emergency, thanks to Muhyiddin’s clever politics.

Since the Emergency was declared by the Agong, everyone is respecting that decision and not questioning it. But, does Muhyiddin realise that since he was given emergency powers only to manage the covid-19 pandemic, all the decisions he can make can only be related to the management of the covid-19 pandemic?

Neither he nor any of his Cabinet members can represent the government of Malaysia in any other capacity except in relation to the management of the covid-19 pandemic. They can’t make official visits abroad or locally. They can’t make any appointments or policy decisions. They can’t make new allocations. They can’t make public addresses. They can’t do any of the above or any other aspect of government except where it concerns the management of the covid-19 pandemic.

If the PN emergency government does anything other than that related to the pandemic, all of it can be thrown out when a new government takes over or challenged in court.

The best option for the PN coalition is to resign. It’s not just the person assuming the prime minister’s position who should resign, but all the PN members assuming Cabinet positions must resign. The reason for this is because it is an unelected minority government that was not reinstalled officially when it lost its majority on Jan 9 and automatically fell as a government.

If the PN coalition had resigned and then reinstalled by the Agong as an interim government until a majority government is formed, there would be no question of its legitimacy. But if the PN government resigns and another coalition is able to command a majority, that coalition becomes the new government.

It is when a ruling party or coalition loses its majority that it falls — automatically. It is not when the prime minister resigns that the ruling party or coalition falls. When a PM resigns because he has lost the support of the ruling party or coalition, someone else from the party or coalition can become the PM. But if the ruling party or coalition loses its majority, the prime minister must tender his resignation and the resignation of his entire Cabinet.

That’s what has happened in Italy. The previous Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned when the small Italia Viva party withdrew from the ruling coalition leaving him with a minority. He didn’t resign because he lost the support of his party. Italian president Sergio Mattarella then called on former European Central Bank president Mario Draghi to form a majority. He succeeded and faced a confidence vote in Parliament which he won handsomely.

That’s the procedure for forming a majority government when a ruling government loses its majority in a democracy. If that procedure was followed in Malaysia, we would not be in the state we are in now.

A year ago, when former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition remained intact. Bersatu, his party then, could have replaced him with another candidate and submitted that name to the PH coalition for consideration. PH could have accepted, rejected and/or nominated its own candidate until a consensus was reached through negotiations.

However, that possibility did not materialise because, within hours of Mahathir’s resignation, Muhyiddin withdrew Bersatu from PH causing it to lose its majority and hence that government fell automatically. Muhyiddin was subsequently named as PM because he could get a majority with Umno’s support. The expectation was that that nomination would face a confidence vote in Parliament and there was still time for another coalition to be formed. Within a day, Mahathir was able to form another coalition with 113 MPs’ support, which means Muhyiddin lost his majority.

By right, Muhyiddin should have told the Agong then that he had lost the majority and advised him to contact Mahathir to test his majority. That’s how it is played out in a democracy. But, Muhyiddin did not do that.

One year later, Muhyiddin has done the same. He lost his majority on Jan 9 and he should have resigned. He didn’t resign and is continuing as an uninstalled government. He may have non-democratic reasons for wanting to remain in government. If that is so, he should announce what those reasons are and seek reelection and if he gets a two-third majority he can amend the Federal Constitution to suit his purposes. Until then, he has to abide by the Federal Constitution and follow the correct procedures of establishing a legitimate government. Failing to do so would simply make the PN coalition an illegitimate government. He needs to speak with constitutional experts to guide him in the decisions he has to make.

If Muhyiddin is serious about setting a good example for future potential prime ministers, he and his Cabinet will resign. That’s the only option left and the honourable thing to do.

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.

Well done, Mr Speaker

The fact that Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has accepted former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s request for a motion of no confidence against his successor Muhyiddin Yassin clearly shows he is upholding the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Ariff recognises that in a parliamentary democracy — which is the form of government we practise — MPs have the right to move a motion of no confidence against a sitting prime minister — in this case, one who wrenched power from a rightfully elected government and refused to seek legitimacy from the Dewan Rakyat, and, in doing so, abandoned the practices of parliamentary democracy.

In accepting Tun’s proposal for a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin, Ariff made a decision according to the provisions and spirit of the constitution. Tun had requested two proposals, one was the motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin on the basis that the latter does not command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat and the other was to retain the Speaker in his current capacity until Parliament dissolved. Ariff accepted the former but dismissed the latter saying it was not in line with Standing Order 27.

He made the decisions based on the constitution. That is what the people want of our leaders: to follow the constitution. We don’t want leaders who seize power by political means and who do not comply with the constitution. We can’t have leaders who follow one law for themselves and another for others. We want leaders who will uphold the constitution and not circumvent it.

In this case, Ariff set a good example in complying with the expectations and spirit of the constitution.

I wish I could say the same of de facto Parliament and Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan. He said only government matters will take priority during the one-day May 18 sitting. I wonder if he is aware of how our parliamentary democracy works? Somebody should tell him it is the Speaker who has complete authority over Dewan Rakyat proceedings and there is no authority above him during the sessions. If he doesn’t know this, he should start studying the Westminister-style of the parliamentary system we follow in Malaysia and until he becomes knowledgeable on the subject he should say nothing more on it.

It is nor surprising that Takiyuddin doesn’t seem to know because he is a PAS member and PAS couldn’t care less about parliamentary democracy because they want– at all costs — to establish a syariah-compliant government and a parliamentary democracy is an obstacle to their objective. They would find a monarchy more suited to their feudal concepts of law and government.

When the motion of no confidence is introduced in the Dewan Rakyat, we can except PAS’ 18 MPs to vote against it. But all the remaining 204 MPs minus one (Muhyiddin) should vote for a vote of no confidence in Muhyiddin. Their vote will not be a vote against Muhyiddin’s government but a vote for the continuing practice of parliamentary democracy — that Parliament is the supreme lawmaking institution in Malaysia.

Malay leaders need to demonstrate that they are committed to and will stand by the constitution. It’s time they stopped using politics to seize power and legitimize it even when they go against the grain of the constitution. Non-Malays want a Malay leadership that complies with the constitution as the hope of non-Malays is in the constitution — not in political power.

So, all true-blue Malaysian MPs, Malay or not must fully back Tun’s motion of no confidence in Muhyiddin and cast their vote in favour of parliamentary democracy and vote out Muhyiddin and his government which shows no sign of following parliamentary democracy. Do this for Malaysia.

Muhyiddin’s new political normal; the Dewan Rakyat must act

When Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) from April 14 to April 28, he called on the people to adapt to the “new normal”. He said restrictions may be enforced for a longer period and urged the people to practise the new normals of avoiding mass gatherings and crowded places and looking after one’s personal hygiene.

It was good advice because the restrictions may continue as covid-19 is not going to disappear any time now. Until it runs its course and new cases stop or a cure is found, people have to keep practising the new social norms of frequently washing hands, maintaining social distances, wearing masks and avoiding large crowds even as we carry on with life.

However, the prime minister made no mention of what the new normal will be in government. What is apparent in his short tenure so far of less than two months is that he has sidestepped democratic processes. Is that going to be a new normal in his form of government?

He had three clear opportunities to show that he respects, honours and upholds the democratic conventions Malaysia practices as a parliamentary democracy but in all three cases, he chose NOT to follow them.

Firstly, when the Agong chose him as the 8th Prime Minister, there was a time span of about a day before he was sworn in. In that time span, the previous prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was able to get a minimum of 112 MPs to back him as PM but the king by then had stopped all communication with him. (Tun said the palace had no communication with him.)

The whole country saw Tun had 112 signatures, which means Muhyiddin couldn’t have had a majority out of the 222 MPs, and, surely, Muhyiddin knew it too. If he respected the democratic practices that this country follows, as prime minister-designate, he would have realised he had lost majority support and declined the position in the democratic tradition. The fact that he didn’t do the obvious, that alone immediately disqualifies him as prime minister because it is the prime minister — not the king (as constitutional law experts repeatedly have said in the past) — who upholds the democratic processes of this country and advises the king accordingly, who concurs with the mandate of the people.

That’s the Westminister-style parliamentary democracy we follow but with that one decision NOT to decline Muhyiddin dismissed the democratic processes and chose to become prime minister by appointment.

If, in upholding democratic traditions, he then faced the Dewan Rakyat to test if he had the majority and won a vote of confidence, he would have received the respect and support of the people. But, he failed to test his appointment in the Dewan Rakyat and continues to lead an illegitimate government. Is that another new normal we are expected to adapt to?

Secondly, when covid-19 was declared a pandemic, he should have developed a plan of action and presented it to the Dewan Rakyat for approval. Again, he failed to follow democratic practices.

Thirdly, when he introduced the RM250 billion (later upgraded to RM260 billion) economic stimulus package, he should have presented it to Parliament as is customarily practiced by parliamentary democracies, for approval before announcing it. Again, he failed to follow democratic conventions.

How can a prime minister of a democracy fail to uphold democratic procedures and continue in that position? For failing to abide by the democratic practices by which he was elected to Parliament in the first place, he must be censured by his peers — at the Dewan Rakyat. The people should not be forced to adapt to a government where an unelected prime minister governs as if it were the new normal.

The May 18 Dewan Rakyat session is crucial as the people need to know if the MPs they elected will fight to establish parliamentary democracy as the supreme rule of law in this nation.

What the Dewan Rakyat must do

The issue isn’t to topple Muhyiddin’s Prihatin Nasional (PN) government by a vote of no confidence. The issue is to affirm the democratic processes and hold a prime minister who strayed from those principles to become accountable to the people again. The Dewan Rakyat must be seen upholding the democratic process and fighting for the mandate of the people to be respected by all, especially the prime minister.

A vote of confidence/no confidence must be called by the MPs because it is the democratic process. Whether PN wins or loses is of secondary importance. Both sides will lobby to get majority support and will be prepared for either outcome: win or lose.

Should PN fail to win a no confidence vote,  the Dewan Rakyat must make it clear as to who has their majority support. The support can’t be split between a few names. The MPs must be clear their support is only for one name.

Fully aware of the sentiments against the previous prime minister, I wish there is another name I can mention here. But, in the current circumstances, I believe Tun Mahathir needs to be brought back to helm an interim unity government to steer this nation through the uncharted territory that is before us. He is the only one who can command the respect of both sides, ensure that democracy is practised, prevent corruption and fairly distribute increasingly dwindling national resources for the benefit of the nation.

The current inexperienced PN government may be out of its depth dealing with a deteriorating economy and a restless people facing salary cuts and layoffs and a pandemic. If the way it distributed the RM260 billion economic stimulus package is anything to go by, it is apparent that the priority of the PN government is to throw money at its political base which is mainly in the B40 group, in the style of the former prime minister, Najib Razak.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declared that the world economy has contracted by 3% and that developing nations will be hardest hit. Malaysia, too, will be hamstrung by a contracting economy. Economists, according to media reports, predict the Malaysian economy will contract by 2.5% to 4%.

Faced with a grim immediate economic future, can the PN government be trusted to make the right decisions or submit to political expediency which is the trademark of this government?

Is it prepared to trim its oversized Cabinet of 70 ministers and deputies? Is it prepared to cut Cabinet salaries? Is it prepared to make the tough decisions of trimming the civil service? If it does the above, it risks losing support and what happens next may be another Sheraton move to seize power for survival. To avoid such an eventuality, the PN government may resort to channelling funds from Petronas, Khazanah, EPF and the government-linked companies (GLC) to bail itself out. Unfortunately, the reserves of these would also be depleting. How much money can they spare to bail out the government?

There might have been a monetary reason in making PAS president Hadi Awang the Special Envoy to the Middle East — in the hope funds can be obtained from these nations to help out the PN government. Again, unfortunately, these nations’ gross domestic product (GDP) have also declined as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. How much help can they give?

To make matters worse, the first thing Hadi did as Special Envoy was to send a letter to Muslim leaders disparaging Pakatan Harapan leaders, his fellow Muslims and Malaysians. Clearly, he was operating out of his depth.

Yet, due to tightening funds, if Umno and Bersatu start squabbling over who gets whatever little is available, the only party that will emerge stable enough through the turmoil will be PAS because they don’t have much problems living with less. The situation will play right into Hadi’s hand, as there is nothing now to stop Hadi — as the next most senior person in government — to be appointed prime minister. And, that will be the end of democracy in this nation.

The above, no doubt, is a depressing picture of the immediate future but the potential of it happening exists in the PN government.

But, all of the above can be averted if Dewan Rakyat votes to uphold the democratic processes.

My own personal feeling is that things will not go well with the PN government unless it wins a no-confidence vote.

The Tun factor

The best government to lead Malaysia through the economic and political uncertainties of the future is a unity government led by Tun Dr Mahathir.

Perhaps, PH leader and Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim needs to consider this option. He needs to talk with Tun and other MPs on how best to achieve this. It must be a well-thought-of plan that can be executed quickly and efficiently with the support of the majority of the MPs in the event Muhyiddin fails a no-confidence vote.

This time, if Tun is given the mandate to lead a unity government, he must be given overwhelming support, perhaps of more than a 2/3 majority so that it is clear that the Dewan Rakyat wants no other leader. There should be no undermining of his position but unstinting support backed by a smaller Cabinet filled with good leaders picked up from all the parties.

Tun’s leadership is needed to ride out the hard economic and political times ahead. I believe, at this point in time, he is the best choice to lead Malaysia until the next general election. I also believe that should he come back as prime minister for this short period, the Najib factor will be neutralised for good and there will be political stability. By the end of Tun’s term, Malaysia’s economic decline will be arrested and institutions would be finetuned so that the problems of the past do not repeat.

Then, from the 15th general elections onwards, Malay-led political coalitions can present their respective teams to the people and it’s up to the people to choose their representatives. Democracy will continue — vibrantly!

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!