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Opposition must form shadow cabinet and put forward alternative policies

How should MPs behave in Parliament?

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The opposition’s failure to block the passing of the supply bill of Budget 2021 – which would have been a de facto vote of no confidence in the Muhyiddin Yassin government – manifests lack of cohesion in the Opposition bloc and suggests weaknesses in its political strategy.

The Opposition has to show it has what it takes to lead the nation and to revive the economy, which has been battered by the pandemic. It must show that it can be a better alternative to the present PN government in improving the lives of ordinary Malaysians.

This it can do by putting up a united front and setting up a shadow cabinet. Through a shadow cabinet, the opposition can demonstrate how ideologically different it is from the government in key policy areas, such as the economy, welfare, education, environment and ethnic relations.

It is time to move beyond “backdoor government” comments. The opposition should convince the people it is waiting in the wings and capable of ruling the country in ways that can improve their quality of life. Instead of insisting it “has the numbers”, the opposition must show the public it has well thought out strategies and policies which put people above political expediency, vested interests and corporate greed.

In this, the opposition parties in Parliament can take a leaf from Parti Sosialis Malaysia, which despite not having any seat in Parliament, provides critical analysis and recommendations on key issues such as “A National Programme to Handle the Covid-19-induced Recession” (July 2020) and “Reducing Greenhouse Gases: A Green Alternative for Malaysia” (January 2020). The party has shown a willingness to discuss issues of national concern with civil society, policymakers and government officials.

Likewise, the Opposition in Parliament must engage with relevant stakeholders and explain to the people what it can do to lift the country out of the present quagmire, if given a chance to lead the nation again.

Aliran executive committee
21 December 2020
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