Congratulations, Umno over Act 355

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Less than eight hours before the tabling of Act 355, the Parliament made a new record by ending its session at 5.05am after a 20-hour frenzy to pass multiple bills. Rushing bills without sufficient scrutiny is never a good democratic practice. Initially, some MPs were dumbfounded by the need to expedite the process. However, by noon they found out that the marathon was necessary to give way to YB Abdul Hadi Awang’s bill.

In the process, not only were bills rushed through thus sacrificing accountability and scrutiny, some important bills were put on the backburner to prioritise Hadi’s bill.

This could be understood if the vote was made there and then. Unfortunately, once more the debate was postponed to the next parliamentary session. This is not the first, nor is it the second, but the third postponement from Umno-PAS.

Umno was successful in pacifying PAS who felt cheated when Umno dropped the need to table the bill. However, this token act was sufficient to continue the romance between Umno and PAS. The fact that PAS leaders weren’t angered at the postponement indicated that they tacitly agreed with Umno’s political power play.

Umno conveniently can now claim that they are in support of the bill but got stopped by their component parties. This will work well in the Malay heartland while subtly roping in PAS on-board.

While Hadi’s bill was tabled, no representatives from Pakatan Harapan were allowed to engage in the ongoing lecture. I can’t call it a debate as it was a one-way show. Despite the speaker of the house promising to give room to MPs from Pakatan Harapan, he abruptly stopped the lecture and postponed it until the next parliamentary session.

This conveniently paves the way for Umno to now blame the speaker for the “failed vote” while they bask in the glory of disuniting the opposition.

Unfortunately, the disunity is not only felt by political parties, but goes deep into the Malaysian social fabric. Non-Muslims and Muslims who disagree with the bill are swiftly labelled as ‘Anti-Islam/Liberal’. Worse when there are those who call the opponents of the bill as ‘Kafir Harbi’, a term reserved for the worst enemies of Islam which warrant their killing.

There will be those who think that PAS is the winner here. I humbly disagree.

Postponements after postponements will take a toll on PAS’s support base. The hardcore voters will still stay with them; however, the rest will be hard hit by PAS’s complicity in Umno’s power play. The fence-sitters especially will be fed up with this kind of politics. We can see the result of this in multiple trusted surveys, from Rafizi Ramli’s Invoke findings to surveys done by Merdeka Centre...

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