MP SPEAKS | We missed the boat with Muhyiddin Yassin. And as a consequence, allowed Umno to take over the PM-ship.
Thankfully, we have the second bite of the cherry, albeit one that isn’t as sweet, with Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
I’m glad that good political sense prevailed and the MOU on ‘Transformation & Political Stability’, which is effectively a confidence, supply and reform agreement, was signed this afternoon.
The biggest winners are the rakyat. We succeeded in convincing the new PM to implement much-needed landmark reforms. These reforms come attached with a clear timetable of implementation, to be completed by the first sitting of next year (2022).
Saudara Lim Kit Siang first moved a Private Member’s Bill for an Anti-Hopping Act on March 21, 1978, to protect the integrity of the Parliament.
More than 40 years later, and after the Sheraton Move made a complete mockery of the 2018 people’s mandate, we will finally see such an Act passed in the House to end the shameful practise of political frogs.
Other reforms and policies are no less important - limiting the term of the PM to 10 years, a raft of major parliamentary reforms that will grant the Parliament some real teeth, an RM45 billion financial allocation to assist Malaysians and businesses to fight Covid-19 and rescue the economy and the implementation of Undi18.
With a razor-thin majority, the Ismail Sabri government has also decided to adopt a less adversarial approach with the Opposition in Parliament. In the past, even with the Muhyiddin government, it was always a ‘winners take all’ position for the government, despite his tenuous hold on the government.
Now, the Opposition’s demands will be considered and incorporated into the budget, as well as any other bills the government intends to table in Parliament. This is in exchange for the Opposition to either support or to abstain from a vote on the respective bills, which can only be construed as a fair deal. If we are consulted and our key asks are included in the budget, it will not be fair for us to ‘object’.
Similarly, if the consultation fails to take place and the views are not incorporated, the Opposition will be free to vote against the relevant bills.
In adopting this new policy, Ismail Sabri is learning from Muhyiddin's key mistake. He is not waiting for the last minute to offer the olive branch to the Opposition.
In doing so, by strengthening his position as the PM via the MOU, Ismail Sabri is now in a stronger position to push back any threats and demands by the Umno court cluster and kleptocrats, led by Najib Abdul Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also Umno president.
On the other hand, had the MOU not been signed, Ismail’s hand would have been weakened and he would have to give in to the demands of the kleptocrats.
With the MOU signed, we hope that Ismail Sabri will no longer have to heed the reported demands to appoint Najib as the ‘economic advisor’ to the PM.
More importantly, Ismail Sabri can no longer be pressured to take steps to influence judicial proceedings or the Attorney-General’s Chambers to withdraw charges pending in the court cluster, including Najib’s and Zahid’s corruption trials.
I, for one, certainly look forward to seeing both Najib and Zahid go to jail.
More interestingly, Ismail Sabri also does not need to entertain any demands from the Azmin Ali camp for the latter to be appointed DPM, as any threat by the Azmin Ali faction to destabilise the governing coalition will no longer be credible.
The MOU does not in any way mean that Pakatan Harapan, or even myself, support the Ismail Sabri Umno-led administration. No way.
The MOU just means that the rakyat now will get some peace and stability to deal with Covid-19 and the economy, instead of being perpetually preoccupied with repeated attempts to a power grab by parties who claim to have a strong, formidable and convincing majority.
We will extract as much benefit for the people, and reforms to improve Malaysia’s democratic institutions, as possible under the MOU while we remain in the Opposition.
But once the Parliament gets dissolved any time after July 2022, Harapan will fight tooth and nail to have the people’s mandate returned to the rightful parties.
TONY PUA is Damansara MP and DAP national publicity secretary.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.