Tag Archives: PN

Baffling PN MPs

While happy that Convent Bukit Nanas got an extension of its land lease by 60 years, I was surprised by the decision and the speed with which the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) made the announcement.

Such a quick decision by Prihatin Nasional (PN) leader Muhyiddin Yassin in response to public outrage and regarding a Christian school is a little short of a miracle! From the moment he was named as prime minister by the Agong, he has not once responded positively to public opinion.

The day after he was named PM, his coalition lost its majority because former prime minister and his then party president, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, got the backing of 113 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat but Muhyiddin seemed to have kept quiet about it and went ahead with the swearing in when he should have told the king that he had lost his majority and resigned. This may be history but it shows how he operates.

Then, there was a huge hue and cry asking him to validate his appointment by facing a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. He kept quiet and, instead, fired the then Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat and appointed his own candidate without an election which was unconstitutional. Despite the furore, he kept quiet and didn’t yield.

This was followed by endless requests to face a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. He made no response, maintaining his silence and continued as the government of the day without the mandate of the people.

When his coalition partner, bitter about not being given the chief minister’s post in Sabah, threatened to destablize his coalition, he sought emergency powers from the Agong but failed to get it. He made no comment and bided his time.

Early this year, when Umno MPs Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub and Mohamad Nazri quit the PN, it lost its majority again but Muhyiddin remained silent NOT doing what all right-thinking prime ministers do when they lose the majority — resign. He kept quiet like a child keeps quiet hoping no one finds him out, but when one of his lackeys was able to lure an opposition MP to join him, he quickly made a public appearance and claimed he had a majority.

But, during the few days he didn’t have a majority, he had no right to function in the role of prime minister but he quietly continued in the role and went to see the Agong and sought emergency powers and suspended Parliament. The emergency powers were meant to manage the covid-19 pandemic but he and his Cabinet started performing other duties as well and no one could do anything about it despite the numerous online petitions asking him to resign, and resign and call for the reconvening of Parliament. He remains silent and immovable.

Then, suddenly, when the Convent Bukit Nanas issue cropped up on April 19 when the school was granted leave by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to challenge the non-renewal of its land lease, which is due to expire on September 6 this year, there was a public outcry to extend the lease and in just three days — yesterday — the PMO released a statement saying that the lease has been extended by 60 years!

What made Muhyiddin cave in to public demands when right up to this issue he totally ignored public opinion? What or who influenced him? It would be interesting to know. Just like that Convent Bukit Nanas got a land lease extension, yet after a year of repeated public calls he doesn’t resign and he doesn’t call for the reconvening of Parliament. Baffling!

What else is baffling is that the MPs in his coalition are fully aware of all the unconstitutional acts and double standards committed by the PN yet they remain in the coalition. With the exception of Umno MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who withdrew support for the PN on the grounds that it was not an elected government and one which didn’t get the mandate of the people through a no-confidence vote and, therefore, unconstitutional, not one other MP has resigned, not wishing to be part of an unconstitutional government.

If one or two MPs from among the 222 elected MPs turned rogue and acted unconstitutionally, I can just accept it as a case of a few rotten apples. But when more than one third of them don’t seem to have the moral courage nor will to disassociate themselves from unconstitutional acts, and stand up for parliamentary democracy, you begin to wonder how these MPs got elected. It doesn’t inspire confidence in Malay-majority leadership, at least, not among the non-Malays even after an “acquiescence” like the Convent Bukit Nanas land lease extension.

The two other Umno MPs who resigned did so not for constitutional reasons, but for political reasons; they were unhappy at the way Umno was treated in the PN. It really is baffling why, like Razaleigh, not even one other PN MP would choose to resign for constitutional reasons.

The people need to vote these MPs out in the next general election. How can we trust them to abide by the rules of parliamentary democracy and uphold the federal constitution?

Time’s ripe for a new coalition to emerge

Until Members of Parliament act swiftly to form a new Malay-led majority coalition, the Prihatin Nasional (PN) alliance will continue in government by default.

So, if MPs want the PN coalition to step down, emergency lifted and Parliament restored, their parties need to realign themselves and coalesce into a new coalition which can offer itself as a legitimate alternative. When that happens and Umno withdraws from PN, PN will have no choice but to resign. And, it must because a viable alternative has presented itself, proving that PN has no majority.

There will be no need for a general election that would only be a strain on the national coffers and voters tired of Malay politics. The new coalition faces a vote of confidence and if it wins it, wins the mandate to form the new legitimate government until the next general election.

If MPs don’t form a new majority coalition now, there’ll no difference in the outcome of results should a general election take place and PN, though a minority coalition, might still be installed as a caretaker government and it will stay on in government until a majority coalition is formed, which may take a long time to happen if it can not happen now.

It appears as if efforts are afoot for a new coalition to be formed and the immediate strategy of MPs must be to make it happen to bring about PN’s resignation. With an alternative coalition poised to take over and with Umno withdrawing from PN, the latter has to step down.

That would consequentially level the playing field. PN would lose the advantage it now has to attract MPs because of the RM3.5 million allocation available to its MPs for community servicing. With the RM3.5 million bait gone, MPs will have to chose sides based on what is best for their constituents. And some may even leave PN to join the new coalition.

What options do the MPs have? With Umno out of it, PN will become a much smaller entity. With PAS in it, it is unlikely to get the majority support of Christian-based Sabah and Sarawak parties which means it will not be able to get a majority.

The best possibility for a majority coalition is Pakatan Harapan (PH), comprising Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), DAP and Amanah — if it can get the support of Sabah’s Warisan and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s yet to be registered Pejuang. GPS has pledged support for PN but if PN resigns because an alternative exits, GPS may change its mind. In fact, it should; any alliance with a coalition in which PAS is a member will backfire on it.

Today, at the end of its two-day retreat in Port Dickson, PH named PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as its candidate for the prime minister’s post in the 15th general election (GE15) due in 2023. However between now and then, PH’s leadership is left open, which means there is a chance for Mahathir to return or someone aligned to him to return to lead a PH Plus majority coalition.

The Mahathir factor should not be excluded because he could rally the support of Warisan and perhaps GPS too and even some Umno MPs to join forces with PH to form PH Plus which would have a very comfortable majority, at least until GE15.

Umno’s future is uncertain. It’s court cluster leadership is being asked to make way for new elections. So, there will be new leaders or some MPs may break away. In either situation, there would be possibilities to negotiate with Umno or its breakaway MPs to join or be friendly towards PH. By itself Umno can’t form a coalition. If it joins forces with PAS no one else will join it. By allying itself with PH it can survive in some way.

If PH Plus can be a convincing majority coalition, PN will have to resign and a caretaker government or new government under a leadership that can ably manage the transition period can be formed to last until GE15. It’s the best option to move forwards and it’s up to the MPs to make it happen.

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 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.

The only option left

Two things are unlikely to happen in the current political scenario. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will not step down and Umno will not quit the Perihatin Nasional (PN) government no matter what.

Muhyiddin won’t resign because its coalition partner Umno will position itself for a comeback and his party Bersatu will have to take a back seat. He won’t want that to happen. Umno, no matter how recklessly destabilising its blustering bullying gets, won’t quit the PN because it’s trying to make a comeback through the backdoor.

Both need to be in the government to have access to funds to put in the hands of the B40 group who form the backbone of the support for both parties. Without funds, support for these parties is not guaranteed.

So, the PN coalition will remain but consider at what future costs. The the covid19 pandemic will be managed, thanks to our excellent Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, with or without the PN government. The sudden spike in cases is being used as an excuse to resort to drastic measures to control an uncontrollable Umno and that makes the PN government a dangerous government because it has demonstrated its willingness to rely on extreme measures to control a situation it can’t manage.

So, will it do the same when people start fighting for dwindling resources?  The economy is going to get worse because of the pandemic. Businesses are downsizing or closing down; people are losing jobs. Government income from taxes will be greatly reduced and with depleting resources the Prime Minister will have less funds to put cash in the hands of the B40 group. More people will be fighting for limited resources and if one group is favoured over the rest, the strain on the people will be greater and who knows how it will explode? If the PN government can not manage the covid 19 third wave peacefully can it manage economically-fuelled racial tensions in the future without relying on extreme action? That’s yet to be seen but are we going to wait until that happens when it might be too late?

There is an option now that is yet to be considered seriously. Restore the GE14 mandate of the people in its entirety, which is a Pakatan Harapan (PH) government composing PKR, DAP, Amamah and Bersatu and its splinter party Pejuang and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and his Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) party with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the Prime Minister-designate and with Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Sabah Warisan Parti  in tow as PH-friendly.

I know PH parties are moving on with alternative arrangements but it must respect the mandate of the people in the GE14 and seek to restore the coalition and its composition as elected by the people. Any combination outside of the original PH coalition will not work. Strife and political instability will continue and it will get worse.

To arrest these twin issues which are causing undue strain on the people, the unelected PN government must be made to face the due processes of parliamentary democracy. No elected MP must tolerate an unelected government and must take steps to restore the mandate of the people. But, how?

My suggestion is the GE14 PH original coalition. This is the only choice of a coalition left. Send out feelers to recoup. The parties concerned must be willing to set aside personal feelings for the good of the nation. Tun, Muhyiddin, Anwar, Azmin, eat humble pie and work together.

Sit together and have a pow wow. Thrash out the outstanding issues but with professional courtesy without shouting at each other, especially to Tun. It’s not in our culture, whether Indian, Malay, Chinese or ethnic Sabahan or Sarawakian to be rude to our elders. Maintain professionalism but talk and iron things out, personal feelings aside.

If the PN government is defeated by a vote of no confidence in the Dewan Rakyat next week, it will make it easier for PH to form a majority coalition if it approaches Muhyiddin to join it again. If the no-confidence vote is not called then the MPs vote of PN’s Budget must show respect for the people’s mandate. It would be a betrayal of the people’s  trust and a grossly irresponsible act if elected MPs pass a Budget and put taxpayers’ money in the hands of a government these taxpayers didn’t elect.

If the Budget is rejected, Muhyiddin has to resign and again, PH, as the next coalition with a majority should reach out to Bersatu to join it. Umno and PAS will go back to the Opposition but individual members are free to join PH parties.

Should this suggestion work out and Tun returns as PM — maximum until the next election — I hope there will be ministers in the Cabinet who will advise him NOT to sound like US President Donald Trump in his comments on foreign affairs or race issues. With regard to his latest outbursts at French President Emmanuel Macron, let him know that belligerent bravado does not help the Muslim world; respectful engagement does.

My suggestion of reuniting the GE14 PH coalition is put forward as a solution to continuing political instability and future strife. It is the only workable solution left, in my opinion, and, perhaps, the only solution.

Sabahans, vote for your constitutional rights

I seriously hope that Sabahans can see through the stilted statements that the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government and its coalition partners have been making of late. PAS claims it was the kingmaker in installing the PN government. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says Sabahans need strong state-federal ties. Don’t believe them!

PAS president Hadi Awang claimed that his party was the kingmaker in installing the  PN government and that it was done according to Islamic principles. Speaking at the PAS Youth general assembly in Kota Bharu last weekend, he said that PN was not a backdoor government although “we may have differing views”. That precisely is the issue

PAS helped to install an unelected prime minister and government, and a minority government at that, and he claims all these were done according to the constitution. But were they? In addition, PAS supports a government which dismissed the rightfully elected Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat and appointed a new one without an election. PAS supports a government which accommodates parties with crooks, bigots and desperate jobless politicians all in the name of Islamic principles.

For PAS, the above are consistent with the constitution. If they are, what guarantee do Malaysians have that their constitutional rights will not be misconstrued and tilted in favour of PAS’s notions as has happened?

That is the risk Malaysians should not take and why Sabahans must not vote for any candidate associated with PN or its allies or friends at the national or state level. The PN government can not be trusted to honour and uphold the constitution. If PAS can offer a justification for PN to stay in power even if it contravenes the standard understanding of the constitution as according to constitutional experts, PN will go along with it. PAS, meanwhile, continues to influence the government.

But, what will become of our constitutional rights? They will be sacrificed. That is the reason why Sabahans must not vote for PN parties, partners, allies and friends.

Muhyiddin has said a strong state-federal relationship is needed for Sabah. That may be true if PN remains in government. The Sabah and Sarawak elections can determine if PN will remain in power and that is why this Sabah elections are so important.

If Sabah votes overwhelmingly for Warisan Plus comprising Warisan Sabah (Warisan), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), DAP, United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) and Amanah, they will be sending the strongest message they can to PN that they will vote similarly in a parliamentary election.

Most of Sabah MPs are with Warisan Plus except for a few Umno and Bersatu MPs and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Maximus Onglikli. If only two MPs switch camps, it is enough to bring about the fall of PN’s one-MP majority! That is what PN is afraid of and why it is making all sorts of encouraging statements about Sabah.

Don’t be fooled by the PN. In this state elections, DON’T vote for any party associated with PN. Their strategy is to go it independently and see who they can join forces with to form a coalition with a majority later. To preempt it, Sabahans should vote overwhelmingly for Warisan, PKR, DAP, Upko and Amanah.

Although PBS is a Sabahan party distancing itself from PN parties, don’t vote for it, unless PBS openly declares it is leaving the PN at the federal and state levels and becomes an independent or joins Warisan Plus.

The PN parties are Sabah Bersatu, Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP). Parti Cinta Sabah is a party to watch. It is not allied with PN but its party president Anifah Aman is the brother of former chief minister and Umno politician Musa Aman and members of their large family are contesting various seats. They could easily forge a majority alliance should they win a number of seats.

A vote for Warisan Plus parties is a vote for the restoration of constitutional democracy in Malaysia which is the system of government we practise.

If Sabahans vote for the parties which best practise adherence to the constitution, they will be voting to protect their constitutional rights. It’s an indication they will do the same in the parliamentary elections, and, surely their fervour will spread to Sarawak, and GPS would have to make a choice whether to leave the PN or not. In other words, Sabah and Sarawak voters will determine if PN will stay in government or fall.

NEXT WEEK: Vote on behalf of all Malaysians

 

 

A missed chance at reforms

It is a pity that the Prihatin Nasional (PN) leadership has withdrawn the proposed constitutional amendment to limit the tenure of the prime minister to two terms. It would have been a step in the right direction to ensure that useless PMs don’t stay beyond two terms and the better ones are succeeded by others who can build on their predecessor’s good work.

Such a limitation is necessary because currently, under the constitution, there is no oversight of a PM. The PM’s position is extremely powerful. In the hands of someone who does not respect the Dewan Rakyat which is entrusted with the mandate of the people, it is open to abuse.

The fact that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Takiyuddin Hassan, cooly said in response to a question by Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin that there was no need to state a reason for the withdrawal reveals the level of understanding of PN leaders of the democratic process. The Dewan Rakyat is the place for national debate and a proper answer must always be given so that the people know why. A minister who dismisses a question without giving an explanation shouldn’t be in the Dewan Rakyat. He can’t answer and is not bothered that he can’t!

A two-term limit will ensure that ministers who don’t live up to expectations will have a definite shelf life — not more than two terms!

We can no longer expect a prime minister of the calibre of the first four prime ministers. They were not perfect and they made mistakes but they always put nation first. Instead, we have to come to terms with the fact that self-serving leaders — some mediocre, some even unknowledgeable and incompetent — can become prime ministers and ministers.

To guard the people from such leaders, laws need to be made — if the constitution does not already have them — to proscribe what the prime minister can and can’t do. Amendments need to be introduced so that prime ministers are held accountable, especially to Parliament.

Now that there are a number of political parties realigning themselves into different coalitions, a new coalition may win a general election and the designated prime minister should not be expected to wait to be sworn in. An amendment must be made so that the prime minister is sworn in within a stipulated time period.

If there is a mid-term change of leadership — as it happened when the PN leadership took over the government — there should be laws to ensure that the new prime minister faces a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat and survives it with a majority before he takes up office.

Right now, the constitution does not clearly state that a no-confidence vote should be held. The prime minister, as the leader of the house, instructs the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to convene the Dewan Rakyat. If the prime minister is not confident of a majority, he can stall in convening the Dewan Rakyat and a no-confidence vote will be avoided. These were some of the problems that were exposed as the PN leadership took control of the government by the backdoor.

These “loopholes” in the constitution could be resolved if amendments were made so that the Speaker convenes the Dewan Rakyat and introduces the no-confidence vote independent of the prime minister. Constitutional experts have to be called in to study these issues and word the amendments so that a repeat of what has happened will not happen in the future. If it does, recourse to remedy the situation should be available.

Amendments should also be made so that select committees are set up by parliamentarians and the chairpersons elected by the respective committee and not appointed and approved by the prime minister. This would ensure the independence of the committees in choosing members and electing the chairperson.

Another urgently-needed amendment is in ensuring that all elected Members of Parliament are given the same allocation of funds, irrespective of whether they are in the Opposition or not.

The PN leadership, however, can’t be expected to introduce such reforms because then they have to give up power which we can expect they won’t do.

The PH coalition is best suited to introduce such reforms. However, these amendments require a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat to be passed, which the PH did not have when it was in government.

There was a very small window of opportunity which the PH could have seized to rally support to retake the government and then to introduce these very urgently needed reforms. PH was thinking of a counter-coup with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad coming back as prime minister for the third time and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR, a PH coalition member) president Anwar Ibrahim as the deputy. Non-PH parties such as Gabungan Parti Sarawak apparently were willing to give Tun the support to form a majority. But Anwar was adamant that he didn’t want to be Tun’s deputy and the plan was scuttled.

If it had succeeded, with majority support and more lobbying to get a two-thirds support, some of the above-mentioned reforms could have been introduced and passed.

It was a tragically missed opportunity. Now, we have to wait for new leaders of courage, integrity and determination to emerge to introduce the reforms. We may have to wait for a very long time. I hope I’m proven wrong!

PN, where are all your good men and women?

It was expected that Prihatin Nasional’s (PN) 111 MPs, without exception, had voted against the Opposition’s 106 to pass the Supplementary Supply (2019) Bill 2020 in the Dewan Rakyat earlier this week.

If they hadn’t voted for the passing of the bill, it might have led to the resignation of the PN government as it would have shown a lack of support for the government. PN MPs, of course, wouldn’t want that; it would mean loss of jobs, position and money.

So, did they vote for themselves or the people? And, did they vote with a clear conscience? Are these MPs aware that they have entrusted the national coffers into the hands of an unelected government? That they voted for themselves to use the money paid by taxpayers who didn’t vote for them?

With the economy at rock bottom, and revenue from oil, palm oil and other commodities — which are our main revenue earners — down as a result of the worldwide recession caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the main source of revenue would be from taxpayers. But, whose taxes? Taxes from the demographic the PN government claims to represent? PN’s support base comes mainly from the rural areas. Do they earn enough for their taxable income to make a significant contribution to tax revenue?

So, whose taxes have the 111 MPs entrusted in the hands of an unelected government? Taxes from taxpayers who didn’t vote for them. Isn’t there something immoral and shameless about this?

If the government won in a fair election and even if the taxpayers didn’t vote for them, it would be acceptable because it was a fair fight. In this case, there was no election; the government was seized from the people who gave the mandate to rule to the PH and the mandate was dismissed but those who did this voted for themselves to use the money from that mandate.

If the national revenue came from the 111 MPs’ own pockets or from the people who put them there, there would be no issue. But if it comes from the people, they are the only ones who can give a government the authority to use their money. That authority was not given to the PN government because it was not elected. The bill should not have been passed because it gives authority to a government to use the money of taxpayers who didn’t elect them.

If MPs were not enticed to support the government with all sorts of incentives and MPs voted freely and passed the bill, that can be regarded as support for the government. In this case, we don’t know how many MPs were not free to vote as they might have wanted to.

Not free? Are there no good men and women among the 111 MPs who will make themselves free, buck the trend and fight for the country and the constitution by voting correctly? None at all? Five, at least? Four? Three? Two? Not even one?

How then can we trust the PN government to do right by the people? Those who do not understand the intricacies of politics and government can be fooled to trust the PN government. But those who know will not trust this government.

The PN government is hoping that the country will go past how it was formed and let it carry on. Well, that is similar to money laundering. No matter how well the money is laundered, it is still dirty money. It’s the same with politics. No matter what the government does, it is still dirty politics. And it should be stopped.

Perhaps there are a few among the 111 MPs who realise this isn’t the way to govern but are powerless to change the status quo. Or, they may be biding their time. Friends, the country needs you, don’t take your time. If you leave a party or coalition because you don’t want to be associated with wrongdoing, that is commendable. That’s not the same as party hopping for personal gain. It demonstrates that you are willing to fight for what is good for the nation and suffer the consequences. That’s the kind of leaders we need now.

With a number of Malay parties available now to join, PN MPs need to consider their future. To stay put or break out. Who knows the latter may launch them into a successful and long political career in the future because people will recognise their commitment to integrity.

It’s such leaders this country needs now — those who are willing to fight to protect the mandate of the people. Don’t let us down.