Here we go again! We all have the front seat to another round of political turmoil.
With the resignation of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday, Malaysia is once again in the throes of seeking another prime minister and government.
Just as the Covid-19 virus keeps evolving to survive, many of our federal politicians are now also jostling to survive and get into office.
Unfortunately, in both cases, the fight for their survival is harming the rakyat.
Ever since the dramatic collapse of the elected PH government in February of 2020, the subsequently installed PN government has been besieged and struggling to stay in office.
They have lurched from one never-ending political crisis to another and survived via various short-lived gambits till now.
The collapse of the PN government has once again — this time within a space of 17 months — placed the current King with the difficult task of appointing a political leader who commands majority support in Parliament as prime minister.
Muhyiddin’s immediate appointment as a caretaker prime minister is perhaps an indication that there is no clear frontrunner yet who commands the support of the majority of MPs.
The immediate issue that seems to have triggered the current crisis was the illogical and ill-timed revocation of the emergency ordinance just a few days before its natural expiry revocation.
This, in short, led to the clamouring for a vote of confidence in Parliament that was finally set for September 7.
In his bid to survive this vote, Muhyiddin upped the stakes and attempted to pull a few more rabbits out of the proverbial hat.
This gambit was centred on seeking bipartisan support ahead of the confidence motion in September and the following seven proposals were the bait:
- All MPs, regardless of political affiliation to receive the same annual allocation. This has been a much sought-after request by any opposition MP.
- Proposal to raise the Covid-19 fund ceiling by another RM45 billion.
- Allocation of RM10 billion cash assistance for 11 million recipients in the second half of 2021, partially easing the economic hardship.
- Tabling a constitutional amendment bill to limit the prime minister’s term of office to two terms only, and an Anti-Party Hopping Bill.
- Chairmanship of parliamentary committees to be equally split between the government and opposition.
- To implement the lowering of the voting age to 18 without waiting for the implementation of automatic voter registration.
- Opposition leader to be given remuneration and privileges equivalent to that of a senior minister.
Some of these proposals are not new and have been floated many times over the years. In my opinion, some of these are actually good in terms of strengthening democracy.
However, it seems the opposition did not take the bait; but barked loudly, they certainly did.
The detractors mentioned these were not sincere proposals and were merely put forward so that he could remain in power.
This is obvious; however, their introduction could have brought long-term benefits to the nation as a whole.
In any case, putting logic aside, strategically for those who wanted to assume the post of prime minister themselves and their allies, this offer of the bipartisanship incentives did not fit into their own plans.
Therefore, they did not accept the olive branch which eventually culminated in Muhyiddin’s resignation.
So, while waiting for further developments, we Sarawakians need to note that the vagaries and instability of Malayan politics do have an impact on us in terms of uncertainties in funding and support for our progress.
But at the same time, we are fortunate we have a stable Sarawak government and some autonomy that enables us to be shielded from Malayan political instability to some extent.
This stability here allows our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his team to focus on serving Sarawakians.
Whatever the final outcome of the leadership tussle at the federal level, it is important that Sarawak must always get the best possible deal.
Ultimately, having a working relationship with the federal government, whether as part of an alliance or an understanding is the pragmatic way forward.
Anyway, who knows, perhaps our caretaker prime minister might be invited to form the next government. Remember, politics is the art of the possible!
The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.