Pakatan Harapan is ready to have a confidence and supply agreement with new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, according to DAP’s Tony Pua, provided that he makes the same offers that Muhyiddin Yassin made before his resignation.
Speaking at an online forum last night, the Damansara MP confirmed that negotiations are ongoing between the opposition bloc with Ismail Sabri, who was appointed as the country’s top executive a week ago.
“In regards to support or abstention, we want whatever Muhyiddin has offered to Malaysians in his very famous speech back then... We want it also offered to us and Malaysians today.
“If he (Ismail Sabri) can do that, and this is being negotiated now, if he can offer whatever that Muhyiddin has offered, (the promise to legislate) anti-hopping law, limiting the term of prime ministership, and parliamentary reforms, then we are prepared to now offer a ceasefire in order to provide certain stability for the government.
“(The ceasefire is for the government) to carry out these reforms prior to the next general election.
“That’s something we are working on and we are quite optimistic at arriving at positive outcomes from these discussions,” said Pua.
The prominent DAP lawmaker was speaking at a forum organised by the Oxford and Cambridge Society Malaysia, which was streamed live on Youtube.
He was referring to the offers made by Muhyiddin on Aug 13, where he among others promised to undertake a slew of reforms that the opposition have demanded, in exchange for their support.
It was seen as Muhyiddin’s last ditch attempt to save his position after 14 Umno MPs wrote to the king saying that they no longer support the prime minister and his government.
“We missed the boat with Muhyiddin. That is fine. Now it is on the table again. Should you take it? I say we should,” Pua said.
Ismail Sabri was sworn-in as Malaysia’s ninth prime minister before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last Friday after he received a slim-majority support from 114 MPs, but he still has to face a vote of confidence when Parliament reconvenes this Sept 6.
With just a four-seats majority from a total of 220 MPs, the Umno vice-president is at risk of being toppled during the voting process.This is especially given that Ismail is also facing an internal political battle, particularly with Umno MPs who played key role in the collapse of Muhyiddin administration.
On Wednesday, Ismail Sabri hosted a meeting with Harapan leaders including opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim, after which the prime minister issued a statement saying that they have agreed to strengthen the parliamentary institution.
Anwar had also told reporters then that the opposition coalition would not “complicate” an upcoming vote of confidence for the prime minister, if the latter acts in the interest of the people.
However, both sides did not specify much details on what were among the agreements that they have been working on.
Opportunity opened by Umno’s internal battle
Answering a question from the moderator, Pua attributed the opportunity to have a sit-down with Ismail Sabri to the internal struggle in Umno.
According to him, it was because the prime minister is facing threats from within that the latter is willing to negotiate with the opposition.
“You are right, Ismail Sabri is only one of the vice-presidents in Umno. And hence he is weak.
“Precisely because he is weak, there is room for us to negotiate terms that will achieve benefits for the people out there. It will actually create a better democracy for Malaysia.
“If he is strong and he is in full control of Umno, in full control of his people and coalition, there is actually no need for him to want our support.”
Pua pointed to Ismail Sabri’s new cabinet which was announced yesterday, where most of the Umno MPs who retracted support for the PN government were left out.
He claimed that it showed Ismail Sabri taking a stand against the group within his party, and Harapan is hoping that it will be a reason for him to agree with the reforms agenda.