Home Civil Society Voices How long can Muhyiddin last?

How long can Muhyiddin last?

The election losers are now ruling the nation - Photograph: Bernama/Malay Mail

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Muhyiddin’s government is a government of survival with only three years remaining in the midst of a pandemic, writes WH Cheng.

The “backdoor” prime minister has been appointed, the backdoor cabinet has been appointed and the backdoor ministers have taken their oath and commenced work in their new ministries.

This is the first cabinet established by a prime minister without a deputy prime minister. Instead fouhr senior ministers were appointed as the PM’s inner cabinet, to advise and assist him on in-depth matters.

Bersatu has withdrawn from Pakatan Harapan (PH) in an ugly manner and forged an alliance with Umno and Pas to established a “Malay” government to “save” the country from an overwhelming “Chinese” PH government, according to sources from Umno, Pas and Bersatu.

So, at the end of the day, do Bersatu and some PKR defectors mean the governing factor of this nation is still all about one race and their religion?

In the new cabinet, Bersatu leaders have taken up a large number of ministerial positions, while Umno claimed their lot as well. However, Pas did fairly poorlly when it came to asking for cabinet positions. Their party president did not make it to the new cabinet while their party deputy president took up a less important position instead of the religious affairs minister position, as earlier anticipated.

Pas members at the grassroots level were heard voicing their dissatisfaction over the fewer important cabinet positions their party was awarded, even though the the party had played an active role as well in toppling the PH government.

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Umno leaders too were heard complaining that the deputy prime minister’s position was supposed to be filled by the party, but this time round, the position did not even exist.

Muhyiddin knew if he were to appoint a deputy prime minister, politicking and factionalism would continue between the Perikatan Nasional (PN) partners. If he had appointed someone from his own party, some factions would have been disappointed. If he had appointed someone from Umno, his own Bersatu would have been be unhappy. Even Pas was aiming for the post. What should he do? Don’t appoint anyone at all as a solution.

Instead he used the divide-and-rule method by appointing four senior ministers as part of his “inner cabinet” to assist him on crucial matters. For the first time in history, four senior ministers were appointed instead of a deputy prime minister.

But in playing such a game, how far can he go? How long can he last? No one knows.

Muhyiddin’s government is a government of survival as he has only three more years left if he can survive a no-confidence vote at the 18 May 2020 parliamentary sitting. The coronavirus pandemic has given him a huge advantage as he does not have to go through a snap general election sooner.

What’s more, the government can ill-afford to organise another general election this year due to the massive loss of funds suffered as a result of the financial scandals and billions stolen during the reign of the previous Barisan Nasional government before May 2018.

Postponing the parliamentary session to 18 May 2020 has bought Muhyiddin time to seek more support for his new government and perhaps entice more MPs from the PH side. But as his government is a Malay-dominated government, will he get the popular support he wants? Or will he resort to enticing more defectors to sustain his government even at the lower level? Is he doing it or is Umno doing it? Or are both doing the same. Does Pas actually condone such a dubious practice as a religious party in the PN coalition?

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What if Muhyiddin loses a no-confidence vote at the parliamentary sitting on 18 May 2020? Will he seek more time from the king to regain his ground or will he call for a snap election? The king of course has the power to decline the call for a snap election due to the current situation, where the coronavirus is spreading. When it will stop spreading, no one knows.

But many have expressed unhappiness about the new government citing it was formed through the back door, established in an immoral way by immoral leaders who used immoral methods to topple a government that was elected in 2018.

Due to the unfavourable circumstances the nation and the people have to endure, we must exercise caution and patience and hope for the best outcome. Yes, it is true that the electoral victory of the people in 2018 has been stolen by power-hunger politicians, but the nation still has to move forward.

Let us all pray that these immoral political leaders will not take advantage of the situation and ruin the nation’s economy and the people’s wellbeing.

Source: Inter-Research and Studies (IRAS)

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