Don't do this to the rakyat - Ambiga's plea to politicians

Modified 27 Feb 2020, 10:46 am

Ambiga Sreenevasan has reiterated her stand that the nation can ill-afford a snap general election at this juncture and urged politicians to resolve the current impasse without having to walk down that road.

In a Twitter post this evening, the former Bersih chairperson said she had consulted Election Commission chief Azhar Azizan Harun on the matter.

"The cost of the 2018 (general) election was about half a billion (ringgit).

"A snap election (will cost) about RM750 to 800 million! Please politicians, get together and solve this. Don't do this to the rakyat who are at the mercy of your politics," she added.

Speaking to Malaysiakini later, Azhar said the figure was a "guesstimate."

The political imbroglio in Malaysia comes amid a global economic downturn due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Interim Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, this evening, announced an RM20 billion economic stimulus package in reaction to the outbreak, which has now claimed more than 2,800 lives.

In an earlier tweet, Ambiga also defended Mahathir's plan to form a unity government which the latter said would focus on national interests and cut across political lines.

She was responding to another Twitter user who highlighted that Malaysians are concerned that if the 94-year-old leader is given a free hand to form a unity government, which included BN and PAS, there would be no opposition.

"And how about looking at some of the bold appointments he did make: Eg first woman CJ (Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat) and many others. And it is a fallacy that there is no opposition," she added.

Earlier, Ambiga retweeted another user's concern that a snap polls risked "letting in the kleptocrats" and that a contest along issues of race and religion would damage the nation beyond repair.

Mahathir's advisor A Kadir Jasin had previously said whatever form of government Mahathir chooses, it would not include "kleptocrats, corrupt leaders and those charged in court."

Umno and PAS - which are allies in Muaafakat Nasional - had initially pledged their unwavering support for Mahathir but retracted this when the interim prime minister said he wanted to form a unity government that does not follow party lines.

Both parties are now demanding that Parliament be dissolved and snap polls be held. Umno has 39 seats whereas PAS, 18. Together with BN parties MCA, MIC and PBRS, Muaafakat Nasional has a total of 61 seats.

Political observers also opined that a general election at this point would favour Umno and PAS given the sentiments of Malay voters, who believe that the previous Pakatan Harapan government had failed to safeguard their interests.

Umno and PAS would however face a challenge with regard to seat distribution due to overlapping claims.

The 22-month-old Harapan government collapsed on Monday after Mahathir resigned as prime minister. His party Bersatu, which has 26 seats, also pulled out of the coalition.

Mahathir also has the support of the PKR defectors led by former deputy president Azmin Ali. This is a total of 11 seats. However, the status of one of the MPs, Jonathan Yasin, is currently unclear after he posted on Facebook that he has not quit PKR.

Support from East Malaysian-based parties for Mahathir could also be affected by the unity government proposal. Previously, GPS (18 MPs) and Warisan (nine MPs) had pledged their support for him.

However, GPS has since said it would act "in the interest of the nation without sacrificing the rights and interest of Sarawak" but made no mention of names.

Harapan, which now comprises PKR, DAP and Amanah, has nominated PKR president Anwar Ibrahim to be the next prime minister and cautioned that a unity government could lead to a dictatorship.

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang described the unity government as an attractive concept which should be considered by all rational Malaysians but wanted Harapan to be its anchor.

"One thing is clear: No national unity government can be established on treachery, deceit, corruption, betrayal of the people’s mandate or by promoting national disunity," he said.

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