Tag Archives: Pakatan Harapan

Spoilt Sunday

My Sunday was spoilt when I heard that Pakatan Harapan (PH) was planning to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government on Monday with regard to the latter’s 7-point institutional reform offer.

Sabri’s reason for the offer was to achieve political stability. But who’s causing the political instability? It isn’t PH but Sabri’s party Umno. So, what political stability will be achieved by making a deal with PH? None.

Sabri’s coalition is the only side which will gain from the agreement and it will strengthen the parties in the incumbent government because now PH won’t reject the Agong’s address, or any money bill or the Budget to bring about the fall of the government. It will be smooth sailing for Sabri’s side until the next general elections by which time they would have consolidated their position and enter the elections confidently.

In the next general elections all the Malay-based parties — including Pejuang and Warisan — will get a share of the Malay-majority votes and if the distance between PH and Pejuang and Warisan continues, these Malay-based parties with the support of East Malaysian parties and the token non-Malay parties will likely join forces to form a formidable Malay-majority government. Where will PH be? Out in the cold, on the Opposition bench.

A confidence and supply agreement (CSA) works when it is agreed upon with a minority government. But Sabri’s coalition claims it has a solid 114-vote majority in the Dewan Rakyat. So far, the MOU gives no indication that a requirement for signing it is that Sabri should face a no-confidence vote. A no-confidence vote is non-negotiable and if it is compromised, this Opposition’s intention for signing the MOU deserves questioning.

How binding will the reforms be? Can they be achieved in the next 22 months before the 15th General Elections (GE15)? Some of the reforms have to be tabled in Parliament and may need a two-thirds majority to pass. Can the Sabri coalition achieve it? If the Sabri team’s performance in the last 17 months is anything to go by, can this team be expected to deliver? How many of the reforms will be fulfilled within the short time?

If PH has faith in Sabri, it is simply exposing its gullibility. Sabri’s offer is aimed at preventing a test of its majority in the Dewan Rakyat because it is unsure of its majority and wants to split the Opposition so that it is unable to reject any of its important bills to bring about the fall of the government to form a new legitimate government. PH played into Sabri’s hands. Nice work, PH.

So far, there has been no word from Pejuang and Warisan with regard to the CSA with the government. If they were excluded, PH would be driving the two more progressive non-urban Malay parties away from any future collaboration with them for a comfortable Malay-majority-led multi-cultural, multi-religious truly Malaysian government. This now may not happen in the GE15. Nice work, PH.

If PH thinks cooperation now will elicit future collaboration with Umno or Bersatu especially in the GE15, think again. Will the Umno and Bersatu voters prefer to work with PH or the more like-minded Pejuang and Warisan?

If PH works with Pejuang and Warisan to form a government, it would have the chance to introduce the reforms as part of its manifesto. It would strengthen Parliament as a PH initiative instead of a seeming sellout to an unconstitutional Sabri government.

Why PH has capitulated to the Sabri and his predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin’s culture of wheeling and dealing for personal and party gain to obtain parliamentary reforms is puzzling. Wouldn’t it be better to form a government and legislate the reforms according to constitutional processes?

The need to resign and the Opposition’s primary task

In Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s address to the nation yesterday when he announced that the government will give free vaccines to innoculate 26.5 million or 80% of the population against covid-19, he also said that when the emergency is lifted he would dissolve Parliament to make way for a general election.

He, I am sure, will keep to his word but I’m a bit perplexed here. When the emergency is lifted, what is the status of the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government he leads now under emergency declared by the Agong? That government reverts to its state of not only being a minority government but one without the authority of the office to remain in government.

The term of the PN government that began when the Agong swore in Muhyiddin as the prime minister automatically ended 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. That number dropped to 109 on Jan 12 when the Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz (Umno) announced his withdrawal of support for Muhyiddin, leaving the latter with a clear minority. A minority government can not continue to govern unless it has resigned and is reappointed by the Agong for an interim period until a majority government can be formed.

Since the minority PN government did not resign, when the emergency is lifted we will have a minority and illegal government, one without the authority of office to govern. So, with what authority can Muhyiddin dissolve Parliament and call for a general election? If he does, I suspect his decision — like his decision to advise the Agong to agree to an emergency — can be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.

This is common sense. Looking at all the practising democracies of the world, it is clear that there is a sequence of steps that needs to be followed to legitimize a government. Take Itay, for example. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned last week when the small Italia Viva party withdrew from the ruling coalition leaving him with a minority. Subsequently, the process began to form a government with a majority.

Why do PN leaders and their supporters feel they don’t have to follow these democratic conventions? Or, they just don’t know? This is the real reason how PN came to power — not because the previous prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, resigned.

Mahathir resigned because he lost support from his party. But, what followed was chaotic and in the swift succession of events, some constitutional steps were overlooked, either out of ignorance or political expediency. The process to form a new government with a majority begins with the resignation of the incumbent government when it has lost its majority.

It, indeed, will be interesting to see how the courts will rule on these issues and if the judiciary is able to recognize the constitutional relevance of the cases that have been brought to its attention and the urgency of the need to address them. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim, former Umno leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan and a number of NGOs have started legal proceedings against Muhyiddin and Attorney General Idrus Harun regarding the constitutional basis of their decisions/advice to the Agong.

If the courts don’t throw out these cases, and a clear decision is made, future prime ministerial candidates will know in black and white what they can and should do and can’t and shouldn’t do according to the federal constitution.

So, when the emergency is lifted the first thing Muhyiddin and his Cabinet need to do is to resign and advise the Agong to call on the leader who can muster a coalition with a majority to form the government. Instead of bickering and blaming each other,  the Opposition needs to set their differences aside and present themselves as the only united, cohesive coalition with a majority under one name as the prime minister.

The Opposition has to stop blaming Mahathir for the fall of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. It fell not because he resigned but because Muhyiddin pulled Bersatu out of PH and it lost its majority. Mahathir still got a majority after Muhyiddin was named the prime minister but he lost communication with the Palace and his majority was ignored as Muyhiddin took power.

Subsequently, there were a couple of opportunities when the Opposition could have taken control of Putrajaya but their efforts fell through and that wasn’t due to Mahathir’s doing. So, why aren’t these people being blamed? Everyone knows PKR created a ruckus over Anwar’s position. With PKR demanding a timeline for the transfer of power how could Mahathir be sure of their support?

The blame game will lead to nothing but recriminations and accusations, which means the Opposition will lose the chance to offer itself as a strong and united coalition with a majority in the event the PN coalition resigns from government.

The primary task facing the Opposition now is to reconcile, forge together in unity, agree on one name as prime minister and wait for the PN government to resign.

A general election after the emergency is lifted is bad timing because people would want to first find jobs again and start over their businesses. They wouldn’t want it to be disrupted by an election. It would be better to wait until life goes back to some semblance of normalcy before a general election is held.

A general election now would also mean that political parties as they are now — divided — will be unable to form a majority and political instability will continue unless the Opposition is able to present itself as the sole alternative that has a majority.

I believe the Opposition will have a comfortable majority if they stopped attacking Mahathir and closed ranks and got ready to take over when the opportunity lends itself.

It might come sooner than we think.

There is a right side to join!

Strange things are happening in the country again! As it did when Najib Razak was prime minister. The most recent one was when the prosecution dropped all 46 corruption and money laundering charges against former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman. Mind-boggling!

Yet, there were other “strange” events under the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin refuses to legitimize the government by proving its majority in the Dewan Rakyat. Dewan Rakyat Speaker was too scared to stand up to the PM or whoever to follow standing orders and have a debate at the first session of Parliament under the PN government. Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson, is giving a dismissal not amounting to an acquittal.

We wonder if there were rational and professional explanations for the above actions or were they motivated by an irrational fear of reprisals? The same fear that had gripped the civil service during Najib’s time? If it is there’s a way to break that stranglehold of fear: Just sever ties with those who may be responsible for spawning it!

Apparently, there are some people who aren’t afraid. They are all now in the Opposition! They are fearless but have been manoeuvred out of government. The same fate may befall those in the PN government if they stand in the way of these unsavoury characters who want to advance their own self-serving interests and will use any means to achieve them.

So, a word of caution: Be careful who you ally with. If you are in an alliance where these unsavoury characters are operating freely, get out of it before it’s too late! If the situation should get desperately desperate, there might be another “Sheraton Move” or another strange incident where you may get burnt!

In the current circumstances, there is a right side. Right now the safest alliance to be part of is the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.  Its members are not afraid and they will stand up to corruption and a regime of fear. They did it once and they won the 14the general elections. They can do it again but the balance of votes in the Dewan Rakyat needs to tip dramatically to the PH side.

So, my solution to the current political impasse is for all fearless MPs to get out of the PN and give the PH a comfortable majority. The sphere of influence of strangling fear expands in the alliances it operates in. Break that alliance for fear to be destroyed and MPs and civil servants will be free to do the right thing.

It is up to the fearless MPs for just once to think of the nation and do the right thing. For now, they must join the right side because it is the right side!