Muhyiddin Yassin reaching out to Opposition may not have gone far enough

Muhyiddin Yassin reaching out to Opposition may not have gone far enough.

Opposition Leader, as Senior Minister, must be in Cabinet.

The present seating arrangements in Parliament may not reflect allegiances. So far, the media has reported that only Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah asked Speaker Azhar Harun to change his seating. He’s now seated on the Opposition side.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin virtually conceded on Fri 13 Aug that he was heading a minority gov’t when he reached out across the political Divide for support in Parliament.

It isn’t clear whether the Cabinet and the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) and its allies endorsed the 7-Point Plan inviting Opposition co-operation and participation with the gov’t based on common interests.

PAS and GPS have both cautioned that they will pull out of gov’t if DAP is included in any form. PAS and Umno have also declared that they are against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister.

The PN coalition with its allies in gov’t has never been formalised.

For starters, Muhyiddin wants Opposition backing for the confidence motion planned for Tues 7 Sept in Parliament.

Support may also come in the form of abstaining on the vote, an approach that DAP with 42 MPs reportedly favours. One clue comes from recent murmurs in the party that it should re-think its alliances, if necessary. It was implied that swimming or sinking with Pakatan Harapan (PH) may not be sustainable as the Way Forward.

One horse show . . .

At this juncture, the confidence motion still remains a one horse show, inherently rejected if a precedent from May last year haunts the Speaker as it did his predecessor.

The Prime Minister, judging from hostile reactions in the social media to his 7-point offer, may not have reached across far enough and embraced all in the Opposition.

Deal, or no deal, it’s argued that all lawmakers should get equal allocations, representation in Special Parliamentary Select Committees should be balanced, those aged 18 years should be able to vote, and Bills should always be discussed with the Opposition.

The young in the DAP, virtually conceding that the Opposition may have no alternative majority, appears willing to give Muhyiddin a hearing on working on a bipartisan basis. DAP, like PH, wants to prevent Umno regaining the PM’s post.

No confidence motion . . .

In any case, DAP’s first priority albeit on paper remains putting together an alternative majority led by the Opposition Leader. That would mean Anwar has to table his no confidence motion from Mon 2 Aug which was put off when the Parliamentary sitting was aborted after reportedly four virus cases were discovered.

The PM must take the bull by the horns and probably consider including representatives of the Opposition in the Cabinet as Full Ministers without forming a unity gov’t. There’s precedence from the Commonwealth and elsewhere, Fiji being a good example after so much political turmoil and military coup d’etat.

If Putrajaya adopts a “Fiji” style formula, Johor, Perak, Kedah and Sabah would quickly emulate Muhyiddin.

The Muhyiddin gov’t would be more sustainable if it has Opposition MPs working on the pandemic and economic recovery. Investor and market confidence would return and the credit rating and credit risk would improve.

No legitimacy . . .

Patently, PN+ must keep in mind that in law they have no legitimacy. They did not obtain the consent of the governed. Sovereignty resides with the people.

It was PH, including Bersatu now in PN+, which won GE14 on Thurs 10 May 2018.

Instead of handing over the PM’s post, as agreed, to PKR Leader Anwar Ibrahim, Bersatu defected to the Opposition on Mon 24 Feb last year. Muhyiddin was sworn in on Sun 1 Mar 2020 as Prime Minister.

All this may be water under the bridge. However, it has to be stated since Muhyiddin has never explained why Bersatu turned its back on PH and embraced the “kleptocrats” including those in Sabah and S’wak.

Umno eyeing PM’s post . . .

In PN+, Muhyiddin and Bersatu have the same problems with Umno that they had with PKR and PH. The “kleptocrats” in Umno, a term used by Muhyiddin himself, have reportedly run out of patience. They want back the PM’s post.

Also, it’s an open secret that Bersatu grew from the 13 parliamentary seats it won in GE14, to 31 at the expense of PKR and Umno.

In reaching out to the Opposition, Muhyiddin ironically pledged to work on an anti-defection Bill, and impose term limits on the Prime Minister’s post, among others. Obviously, there’s no indication that Muhyiddin will go away anytime soon.

PH may have no patience with the PM’s overtures including the promise of early GE15 by July 2022, a month which may have been simply pulled from the air. It may be a non-starter since most projections see the virus still around by that time. It may be safer to have GE15 in 2023. As they say, even a week remains a long time in politics.

Senior Minister . . .

The Opposition Leader being considered a Senior Minister with all the attendant perks, under Muhyiddin’s 7-Point Plan, may probably be rejected outright by the PKR leadership.

Muhyiddin didn’t mention whether Anwar Ibrahim would be in the Cabinet, not that it matters to the latter. Anwar, having been Deputy Prime Minister, may not settle for anything less than the Prime Minister’s post. Muhyiddin has already said that he has no intention of resigning. He pointed out that there’s no alternative majority.

Minority gov’t . . .

Minority gov’t may be lawful but it will not work, especially in M’sia, unless the Opposition supports the gov’t at least on a Bill by Bill basis. Both the gov’t and Opposition can come up with separate Bills and then merge them in Parliament for consensus.

Muhyiddin, given the power of incumbency, should alternatively be able to secure support from at least 15 Opposition lawmakers each time for gov’t Bills provided their views are at least considered as well in the final Draft.

Author: fernzthegreat

Joe Fernandez holds a honours degree in management, majoring in economics, and has opted from academia in law to being a jurist. He was trained professionally on the job as a journalist. He's a longtime Borneo watcher, keen on the history and legal aspects of Malaya's presence in Sabah and Sarawak. He teaches the English language privately and has emerged as a subject matter expert in public examination techniques.

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