Tag Archives: Opposition

Time may be right to call for elections

When Umno politicians make public statements what the public should take note of more seriously is not what is stated but the opposite!

Take Padang Rengas MP Nazri Abdul Aziz’s recent statement to not call for early general elections. He said the government was “stable now” and should not be disturbed by calls for a general election soon.

Is the government “stable now” a fact or the image he wishes to create in public perception? Is it based on what is real and true? Since his party vice president Ismail Sabri Yaakob became the prime minister, we have faced poor management of floods (last December’s Selangor floods), Azamgate, Sapuragate, Serba Dinamikgate (the biggest fraud in local history involving the false reporting of revenues over RM6 billion), double standards, incompetence, compromised institutions, the return of a convicted former prime minister in the public sphere and the loss of the rule of law and Nazri, a lawyer, calls all of this a “stable now” government?

He must have a very low opinion of the public but we can see through the attempts at influencing public perception. What he means by “stable” is that his party Umno is in government and Umno will not create trouble to threaten that position. The fact that he doesn’t want a general election now can only mean one thing: that he is not confident that Umno will win a majority if a general election is called now. Hence this spin to justify not calling for a general election so that Umno can remain in government.

All the more reason why now or soon may be a good time to call for a general election — if opposition parties are able to size up the situation correctly and unite to make it happen!

The underlying reason why Umno remains in government is because it is protected by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between it and the opposition Pakatan Harapan. All the so-called criticisms by Opposition MPs fall on deaf ears because the government is not obligated to oblige as long as the terms of the MoU are upheld. Everything else is as happened and Sabri’s silence on all the crucial issues is a deafening testimony of his leadership capabilities or the lack of!

The Opposition needs to size up the current political scenario and decide if prolonging this government will benefit the nation or benefit the people in and close to this government.

It is the responsibility of the Opposition to enforce the checks and balances necessary to ensure there is no abuse or misuse of the government. When these fail, the Opposition has the duty to remove an errant government and do everything in its power — according to the rule of law — to make it happen.

Unfortunately, we seem to be seeing an opposition that prefers “to join them if you can’t beat them” — re: the MoU! If the leaders of the Opposition are unable to take the bull by the horns and solve the political dilemma we are in, how can they lead the nation?

Opposition leaders need to unite their parties under a single coalition, the “big tent” if you wish to call it, and boldly call for a general election. They should take control of the situation and decide when and whether to call for elections and not wait for others to make the decision for them.

They will succeed only if they make the necessary sacrifices to unite their parties. That would contrast against the “care less” attitude of the government and present the opposition coalition as a decisive force to reckon with and able to lead because it demonstrates the will to solve the current deadlock.

The vital non-Malay factor

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Tuesday when the small Italia Viva party withdrew from the ruling coalition leaving him with a minority. In Malaysia, on Jan 9 the ruling Prihatin Nasional (PN) government lost its one-MP majority when the Machang MP Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub (Umno) withdrew his support for Muhyiddin. The PN government fell on Jan 9 but the minority coalition continues to occupy the government.

The occupying coalition continues to operate under the emergency ordinance it declared on Jan 12. On the that same day, the Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz (Umno) announced that he has withdrawn support for Muhyiddin. The PN coalition now has 109 MPs in Parliament, two fewer than the 111 required to form a majority to govern as according to the Federal Constitution.

The PN coalition has ignored the democratic principles of the constitution and has set itself in government in the name of the Malay majority. Is this the kind of Malay leadership we want?

I can understand why the Malays the PN represents support it. These are the simple-minded voters who are happy for the little cash their leaders put in their hands and are nice about it. Their leaders can cheat, resort to political chicanery, make pacts with politicians facing criminal charges and stage coups but as long as they are “nice” about it they show how caring the Malays are and if their supporters can get some cash in the process, the latter will give their support without realising that they are being taken for a ride.

This is Malay majority politics and the abilities of their leaders to govern are what we have witnessed since the Sheraton moves last February. The PN coalition in government has only one issue to tackle — the covid 19 pandemic. Under its government, Malaysia has moved from the lower half to the 29th position in the list of countries with the highest number of cases. It has dropped six places to 57 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. There has been no new prosecution on those connected with the IMDB scandal. 46 charges against former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman were dismissed. Is the judiciary independent? Is Parliament independent with an appointed Speaker?

Is this the kind of Malay-led government we want?

Thank God for the faction of the Malay population that does not support the PN coalition! These are the progressive Malays who are mostly in the Opposition. Unfortunately, their numbers are not as large as the PN supporters but they provide full support to the Opposition in the urban areas. If they were a majority, the PN would never have been formed!

This latter group of Malays is represented in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Amanah, Warisan and Pejuang and together they form a dominant representation in the Opposition with the solid support of the non-Malays. Malays and non-Malays in the Opposition understand the significance of constitutional integrity and the need to abide by the constitution and so can work together. That is what as Malaysians we want — Rule of Law. And Malay leaders who uphold it.

That is also why it is puzzling why non-Malay bumiputras in Sabah and especially Sarawak support the unelected minority PN coalition. Do they not know that if the PN failed to follow democratic processes, what can stop them from sacrificing non-Malay and non-Malay bumiputra constitutional rights for the sake of remaining in power in the name of the Malay majority?

Non-Malay bumiputras in Sabah and Sarawak need to think through carefully about which coalition they should join, especially if a general election is called soon. The PN coalition can not be trusted to respect the constitutional rights of Malaysians because they have so far NOT shown compliance with the constitution when their own survival is at stake.

The head of the PN coalition, Muhyiddin Yassin, as leader of a small party (Bersatu) in a minority coalition, will always be insecure of his position and will seek to prop himself up in any way possible in order to stay in power, including sacrificing non-Malay and non-Malay bumiputra rights. Non-Malays need to be extremely wary of such a leadership and seek alliances where the Federal Constitution is followed to the letter by the prime minister and his or her cabinet.

In the absence of a more politically knowledgeable Malay majority, as fellow Malaysians, we, the non-Malays, should fill the vacuum and provide the majority to the Malay-led Opposition which has the experience and scholastic understanding of the Federal Constitution to provide the leadership for an inclusive Malaysia that protects the rights of all, the majority and the minorities.

Sabah and Sarawak PN parties need to urgently rethink their allegiances.

NEXT WEEK: Why a general election now will not restore political stability

Happy New Year! Or, another bleak year?

Annus Horribilis is past and I’m hoping against hope that this will be annus mirablis: a year of auspicious events or miracles!

On a personal level, I hope, individually, after that terrible 2020, there will be some favourable news or even a miracle for each of us. The new vaccine to fight covid-19 is in some ways a miracle. After all these years when we were unable to find a vaccine even for the common flu, it is amazing that just in one year a vaccine was discovered to fight covid-19. There is still much about the vaccine we don’t know and especially about its side effects but the fact that it is available offers hope that people don’t have to die from the virus.

Politically, I am not optimistic that this year would get better. I think we are stuck with the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government not because it has earned the right to govern but because the Opposition failed to unite as a singular force to reckon with. That is largely due to Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) refusal to go along with its partners in its Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

There were several occasions in the last year when PH could have restored the 2018 mandate of the people but that never happened due to the conflict between former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.  Tun’s most recent statement that it will be difficult to work with Anwar seems to suggest that he has other plans besides the possibility of forming a grand Pakatan Plus coalition.

Well, until the Opposition unites as a single united force, we can continue to expect the petty blaming bickering that the Opposition is currently engaging in and the blundering and bungling and bumbling of the PN.

If the Opposition wants a reset of the political climate — as what most people want — it needs to rise against petty loyalty to certain figures and look at facts. One clear fact is that in the current scenario, Tun is the best candidate to lead the Opposition to form a government. Any other candidate will not get the combined majority support if PKR doesn’t stand in the way. Amanah and DAP are open to working with him. With Tun at the helm, there is also the slim chance that some MPs in PN may switch for the sake of the nation rather than for personal agenda.

A credible leadership will seize such an opportunity as 13 men did in the last Dewan Rakyat session when only they stood up to seek for bloc voting when voting was called to pass Budget 2021 at the policy stage. They read the situation clearly. It was a fluid state with Umno members seething over not being given the chief minister’s post after the Sabah elections and there was a chance they might vote against the government. These 13 men stood up and if Anwar hadn’t sent a message to stop the rest more might have stood up and who knows PH might be in government now.

Frankly, it appears as if there are only 13 MPs who will put nation first and seize the opportunity when it offers itself.  We need such leaders, not those who play games and form pacts with unsavoury characters for the sake of political expediency.

With Tun at the helm, a reset will be inevitable. But, it must happen soon not at the next general elections. A Tun-led Opposition needs to take over Putrajaya from PN sooner rather than later. When that happens, it will give time for ALL political parties to elect the leaders they want to lead them into the future. It will offer a chance for a new crop of leaders to emerge and stand for election in the next general elections.

If the PN government is allowed to continue, the same leaders will stand for elections and the status quo will remain. The same people will be reelected and PN will continue to lead the government. It will be same old, same old!

If Tun leads the charge for a change in government, it is unlikely that he will stay in politics beyond the next general elections and it is very likely we will see new leaders taking over the government.

The Opposition needs to think carefully what strategy it wishes to employ rather than be swayed by emotion and seek its own personal agenda. If they want a reset, the path before them is clear. If they don’t want a reset, that path is also clear. The question is whether Opposition leaders have the will and guts to stand up for the nation and make a reset happen! That will make this year annus mirablis!