Tag Archives: Tun Dr Mahathir

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!

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!

Wishing you a happy 94th birthday, Tun!

I don’t know if Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will ever see this post. But I’m counting on the fact that he has staff who are tasked to trawl the Net to keep tabs on the number of times his name is mentioned on posts and websites and that they will see this post and duly pass the message to him.

So, here’s to you, Tun: Wishing you a happy 94th birthday!

Tun has lived to an effective ripe old age and truly boasts of a lifetime of achievements — borrowing the phrase from Mix.fm’s birthday greetings to him. When he was prime minister the first time from 16 July 1981 – 31 October 2003, he was stern and driven, quick to modernize the country and expected everyone to fall in line and somehow manage the stress of leapfrogging into modernization! Many buckled and rebelled, but that doesn’t matter any more because these were the same people who grew as a result of his policies and are now in government with him!

Development was the priority then, and if some rights had to be sacrificed to ensure development was implemented unimpeded in an expanded economy in order for the Malays to come up, hold their own and ensure their own survival, together with other Malaysians, he sacrificed them. So, during his first term, his human rights record wasn’t exactly exemplary!

In his second term, however, after leading the opposition to a historic win of the 14th General Elections and assuming the premiership on May 10, 2018, after 15 years out of office, he brings decades of experience to his role, and, perhaps, over the years have become more grandfatherly. Age, no doubt, has mellowed him, but he remains sharp as ever and fully aware of what are the important issues to tackle now to set the nation back on course to success.

Malaysians are so appreciative of him for making change possible that there seems to be no end to expressing gratitude to him, judging from all the birthday greetings he has been getting. Even the King feted him to a birthday party!

So, wishing you a very memorable 94th birthday as we Malaysians celebrate it with you, Tun! May God bless all your endeavours as you reset this nation on course to success and a bright future built on nothing less than integrity, justice and equality for every Malaysian!