COMMENT | Budget bungle - Harapan made it about politics, not policy

"Had there been a well-planned shadow budget, would it be difficult for Harapan to vote down Muhyiddin’s budget without the accusation of sabotage?"

– Wong Chin Huat

COMMENT | Pakatan Harapan’s attempted use of Budget 2021 as a means to delegitimise this backdoor government was always a tricky proposition.

By ginning up the base and amplifying the bellicose rhetoric of Harapan-friendly talking heads, what the coalition did was create a set of expectations that Harapan political operatives were too chicken manure to carry out.

I kept telling any Harapan operatives that would listen to make this about policy issues instead of a political one. In this way, you could get support from a diverse range of people by making the argument that Perikatan Nasional (PN) was letting down the rakyat through specific policy initiatives and wastage.

This would have made it more difficult for non-Harapan MPs to wash their hands of this fiasco and instead defend their support or opposition to PN on policy grounds. The irony was that some political operatives were worried that choices Harapan made with its budget would be dredged up. Well, there is that.

Even former Harapan prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who vowed to be a thorn in the side of his former protégé, could not muster the “moral fibre” to make it clear he was dethroning the current PM. Instead, he chose to go down this chaotic route were deflection and misdirection are the stratagems at play.

The Harapan base wanted a clear signal that this government was illegitimate but what they got were...

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