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MP SPEAKS | Is Muhyiddin offering olive branch or poisoned chalice?

MP SPEAKS | Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's government put forth a litany of offers, which surprised many. What wasn’t surprising was the overwhelmingly negative response to the offer, whether by my fellow colleagues or the Twittersphere.

What I’m about to write will make many unhappy of course. But for those who would like to ponder rationally my considered opinion (my and mine only), do read on.

Make no mistake. I have no love lost for Perikatan Nasional (PN) or Muhyiddin. I’ve stated in my earlier Facebook post the fate of PN today is retribution for the Sheraton Move betrayal of the rakyat.

At a personal level, I will rejoice if Muhyiddin resigns. But as a responsible elected representative, I must ask the question, “what next?” That’s a reasonable question, right?

The best possible outcome is if the Pakatan Harapan PM-designate now steps forth and announces that he has a strong, formidable, convincing majority. Then Muhyiddin’s speech is moot, and we can tell him to pack his bags and get out as soon as possible.

But I’m sure everyone knows the answer to that. Especially since Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said his party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi swore that he will never support Anwar Ibrahim as PM.

Then what are the options staring in the face of the rakyat?

  1. Continued political turmoil lasting weeks (or longer because no one has a majority) in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  2. An Umno PM - the kleptocrats go free; the same clowns in cabinet.
  3. A general election - because no one could come up with a working majority. In the middle of the pandemic crisis. Enough said.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like one, two or three as all are disastrous outcomes for the country.

If so, then surely the responsible thing for the politicians to do (no oxymoron intended), is to at the very least, have a look at what Muhyiddin (as much as one might detest him) has on offer. We must ask the question: Is it a better outcome for Malaysians?

Let’s be frank. Muhyiddin didn’t offer peanuts that even monkeys will reject. He offered some (surprisingly) real tangible bipartisan reforms which the country badly needs. They are:-

  1. A two-term limit for prime ministers. Pakatan Harapan couldn’t do this because we didn’t have a two-thirds majority. But now, for this bill, if Harapan and PN can agree, we could amend the Constitution.
  2. Anti-hopping law. Don’t get me started on the root of all problems that led Malaysia to the political crisis we face today. And yes, Bersatu and PN were are the heart of all the frogging activities. But - if the offer is genuine, and I believe it is because our support is needed, then we should grab the opportunity to pass the anti-frogging law immediately. Ironically, a government in power will always be reluctant to pass this law because those in the opposition are more likely to leap to the government bench, than vice-versa. So now we have this unique opportunity precisely because we have a weak government in need of bipartisan support.
  3. Parliamentary reforms. I won’t bore you. But if even the two paragraphs of Muhyiddin’s speech on this matter are implemented, Parliament will be transformed from a neutered kitten (where I’ve been sitting for more than a decade) to a proper watchdog befitting the supreme legislative institution in the country.
  4. All future bills, including Budget 2022 will be passed in an inclusive fashion. This means we opposition members actually get a say in it. In the past, we get to make noise in Parliament, but are never able to change the outcome. But now, the offer is, we are consulted and included in the crafting of the budget (and other bills) before they are even tabled in Parliament. Isn’t this a big improvement in governance and check and balance?

The above doesn’t yet include all the financial measures to assist the rakyat which we (DAP and Harapan) have proposed and the PN government has accepted.

Should we consider these offers?

Some of my comrades say that the PN government is weak and desperate, that’s why they are now making these offers. Well, if they are strong, why should they? And if they are indeed weak and desperate, isn’t that the best time to be negotiating with them?

Others would argue that it’s too little too late. Yes, it is unquestionably late. But not so late that we can still avoid (i) continued political turmoil killing the country’s health and economy (ii) an Umno PM or (iii) a general election. The question for us in Harapan is, can we save the country from the brink?

Some are adamant that we must bring down the traitors. It’s hard not to share this sentiment. But we will bring them down. As Muhyiddin announced, and I’m sure Parliament can approve it via a motion, the general election will be called on or before July 2022 (after we get over the pandemic crisis). 

That’s only about 10 months away. And I’m very certain and confident the rakyat will kick out those who betrayed their mandate in 2018 and return the right coalition back into power then. That will be the sweetest of revenge.

Let us now count the potential benefits to the rakyat - we end the political turmoil and impasse; we block the return of the kleptocrats; we prevent a general election in the middle of the pandemic; we get the PN government to institute priceless reforms; we get an equal say in passing all bills and finally, we’ll get to kick PN out in a general election to be held about 10 months away.

My view is, if we cannot secure a majority for our opposition leader, we must give the offer by Muhyiddin full consideration. He has asked to meet all opposition parties to discuss the above. And we must at the very least agree to attend the meeting. 

After all, there’s everything to gain for the rakyat, and nothing to lose.

An opposing view: Muhyiddin is a day late and a dollar short

TONY PUA is Damansara MP and DAP national publicity secretary.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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