Veteran opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang said while he has mounting reservations on Ismail Sabri Yaakob's premiership, he is still backing the government's deal with Pakatan Harapan.
Lim said this was because he believed Malaysia has not turned the corner in the war against Covid-19 nearly one month into the new prime minister's tenure.
He noted that over the past week, there were 2,916 reported Covid-19 deaths - the highest of any week so far - and suggested that the situation now is more severe than in Indonesia and India.
"Even the Global Covid-19 Index (GCI) conceived by Pemandu Associates with the support of the Science, Technology, and Innovation Ministry has given up on Malaysia, placing Malaysia in the rank of 152 out of 180 countries in its update of Sept 16, 2021.
Other issues raised were the election of Ismail Sabri's brother as the chairperson of the National Farmers' Organisation and the dropping of criminal charges against former Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) board member Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid.
Despite all these issues, Lim said Harapan's deal with the government was still necessary because it will lead to a "political moratorium" for 10 to 18 months.
"In this period, Malaysia must devise a new policy and strategy to win the losing war against the Covid-19 pandemic and reset institutional and parliamentary reforms so that Malaysians can return to the mission to make plural Malaysia a world-class great nation.
"Ismail Sabri is not a reformer but if he is forced by political circumstances to be a reformer, he deserves full support - not for anyone's sake but for the sake of the country," said Lim.
READ MORE: A guide to the govt-Harapan deal
On Sept 13, Ismail Sabri, on behalf of the federal government, signed the 'Memorandum of Understanding on Transformation and Political Stability' with Harapan.
In it, the government promises reforms including:
Parliamentary reform (immediate implementation)
Lowering the voting age
Passing a bill to discourage lawmakers from defecting
Term limits for the prime minister
Improving the nation's Covid-19 response
Ensuring judicial independence
Fulfilling the Malaysia Agreement 1963
The implementation of these reforms will be monitored by a 10-member, bipartisan steering committee that will meet fortnightly.
On Harapan's part, the coalition promised, with conditions, not to topple Ismail Sabri in Parliament and support his Budget 2022 bill when it is tabled later this year.