Ex-PM Najib Razak was not impressed with an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the government and the opposition. The bipartisan consensus would jeopardise his plan to influence or pressure PM Sabri to appoint him as an economic adviser, which arguably is more important and powerful than Muhyiddin’s chairmanship in the National Recovery Council.
Another ex-PM, Muhyiddin Yassin, was upset too with the MOU. The bipartisan consensus would decrease his influence or control on Prime Minister Ismail Sabri, supposedly his puppet or proxy. But at least Mahiaddin alias Muhyiddin, despite his incompetence and failure during his short 17-month stint, gets the opportunity to chair the National Recovery Council.
Mahathir Mohamad, yet another ex-PM, isn’t as lucky as both Najib and Muhyiddin. Not only have people started abandoning him, largely due to his over-politicking and scheming which had indirectly led to the collapse of democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government, his idea of setting up a National Recovery Council (and become the chairman) had also been hijacked and stolen.
The fact that all the three former premiers – Mahathir, Najib, Muhyiddin – have not made any remarks in regards to the government-opposition MOU suggests that their personal political agendas are somehow threatened. Najib may not be able to avoid prison, while Muhyiddin may not return to power again, and Mahathir may fail to help his son becomes a premier.
Turtle-egg Ismail Sabri, who has been blackmailed by his former boss Muhyiddin as well as his own party’s boss, UMNO president Zahid Hamidi, has decided to neutralize the threats by signing an MOU with opposition Pakatan Harapan. By securing Pakatan’s powerful bloc of 89 votes, theoretically the prime minister needs additional 22 MPs to maintain his fragile government.
And if PM Sabri can ensure support from Sarawak-based GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak), who has in its possession 18 MPs, he just needed support from only 4 MPs to cling to power in the 222-member Parliament, where two seats are vacant after the death of 2 MPs. That explains Sabri’s promise to allocate RM9 billion to Sabah and Sarawak during the Malaysia Day celebration.
Yes, it’s ironic that while Opposition de-facto leader Anwar Ibrahim had difficulties finding 6 MPs to support him as a prime minister, his bloc of 89 MPs could ensure Ismail Sabri remains as prime minister even with only 4 MPs, along with full support from Sarawak GPS’ 18 MPs. It means Sabri can survive without Muhyiddin’s Bersatu, Hadi’s PAS and Zahid’s UMNO faction.
However, instead of crowing about the MOU deal, Democratic Action Party (DAP), the most aggressive of four component parties of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, should quickly start pushing for some reforms to be implemented by the end of the year. It does not make sense to say all the reforms agreed upon can only be executed by the middle of next year (2022).
For example, equal allocation for all Members of Parliament, regardless of party affiliation, should not see any rejection and can be easily voted and approved as law. This reform does not need to wait until next year, but can be done by the end of the year. The same goes to the automated registration of voters, where the minimum age is reduced to 18 years old.
While Malaysia Parliament had already amended the Federal Constitution in July 2019 (during the previous Pakatan Harapan government) to lower the minimum voting age from 21 years old to 18 years old, the Election Commission under the now-collapsed Muhyiddin’s backdoor Perikatan Nasional government had been dragging its feet in enforcement.
Originally expected to come into effect in July 2021, the Election Commission was ordered by the despicable Muhyiddin to push the implementation to September 1, 2022 (with more delays thereafter) because young voters were disgusted with the clueless and incompetent regime. With Ismail Sabri in the driver seat, UMNO should not have any excuses to drag the matter.
In fact, other “low-hanging fruits”, as described by newly appointed Law Minister Wan Junaidi, such as anti-hopping law, restoring parliamentary independence and limiting the prime minister’s tenure, should also be carried out by the end of this year. With the full support of the opposition, there’s no more excuse of lacking two-thirds majority to amend the Constitution.
Interestingly, it was UMNO MP Azalina Othman, who has complained about the lack of commitments in reforms, especially the anti-hopping law. She has urged the de-facto law minister Wan Junaidi and the House Speaker Azhar Harun to expedite her private bill – “Dismissal of Members of Parliament Bill 2021” – with the argument that “frogs can jump at any time”.
Pakatan Harapan should leverage its bloc of 89 MPs to not only expedite reforms after the MOU, but also to strategically work with Bersatu to send crooks like Najib and Zahid, not to mention Najib’s notorious wife Rosmah Mansor, to prison. Bersatu’s rejection of UMNO MP Ahmad Maslan, currently standing trial for money laundering, as deputy House Speaker is positive news to the Opposition.
It was an embarrassment to the prime minister, who was forced to withdraw his own nomination to appoint Maslan as the new deputy Speaker. Muhyiddin had ordered all 31 MPs of Bersatu not to support Maslan, forcing the fragile Ismail administration, which has only 114 MPs – merely 3 vote majority – to postpone the election of a new Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker.
Without the support from Bersatu, Ahmad Maslan would garner only 83 votes compared to opposition candidate Nga Kor Ming, who will definitely secure at least 89 votes. The number of support for Maslan, who is also the Secretary-General of UMNO, would be even lower if Muhyiddin influences other allies like PAS (18 MPs) to reject him.
Ismail Sabri would appear to have lost his legitimacy if Maslan loses by a huge margin to the opposition. To avoid humiliation, the government deployed an evil trick – postponed the election to the next Parliament meeting, in an attempt to amend the Federal Constitution to increase the number of deputy House Speaker post from the current two to three, clearly a wastage of taxpayers’ money.
Still, there’s no guarantee that by increasing the number of slots, Maslan will be elected. If a third, more qualified, candidate joins the contest, the UMNO secretary-general may lose. Nevertheless, the rejection of Maslan means Bersatu and Pakatan Harapan actually share a common enemy – the kleptocratic group consisting of Najib, Zahid, Rosmah, Maslan, Abdul Azeez and other crooks.
Make no mistake. Bersatu’s rejection of Maslan as new deputy Speaker has more to do with Muhyiddin’s frustration over the MOU rather than fighting crooks. Muhyiddin wanted to send a warning that his party is not a toothless tiger. It was also a message to the Sabri administration that any attempt to appoint Najib as an economic adviser would suffer the same consequences.
More importantly, the failure of Maslan to get elected, despite the PM’s personal nomination, suggests the existence of bad blood, or at least distrust, between Ismail Sabri and Muhyiddin Yassin. The opposition should realize that the plan to create three deputy Speaker posts is not to reward it after the MOU, but rather to accommodate Najib’s faction in the government.
Pakatan Harapan should strike when the iron is hot, and not drag its feet till next year and beyond for critical reforms. The opposition could influence and pressure UMNO to sack the Election Commission chairman, House Speaker and even the Attorney General, all of whom were Muhyiddin’s political appointees, if they try to create troubles and obstacles for reforms.
Unless the MOU was nothing but hot air, for the first time, the opposition can play a role as an influencer to balance the power between UMNO and Bersatu. The enemy of UMNO’s enemy is Pakatan’s friend, and at the same time, the enemy of Bersatu’s enemy is Pakatan’s friend too. However, if the government could not deliver any reforms by the year end, it’s time for Pakatan to re-evaluate the MOU.
Supporters of Pakatan will definitely question the status of the so-called reforms being trumpeted by the Opposition. The deliverables of reforms should be evaluated quarterly, not yearly. It’s not true that UMNO will lose more than Pakatan if reforms are being dragged. After all, did not UMNO rule the country for more than 60 years without carrying out any reforms at all?
Source : Finance Twitter