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Grabbing numbers in Malaysia’s power tussle

The Anwar-led Pakatan Harapan coalition must tackle some hard questions

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The nation cannot afford to be waylaid by self-serving politicians amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and economic problems, says Mustafa K Anuar.

The entire nation was abuzz when opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim made an announcement on 23 September he had a “formidable” number of lawmakers to form the next government.

Once again, Malaysians found themselves being placed on an emotional rollercoaster ride, wondering where this power tussle would lead the nation to. This is apart from it being disruptive to national life – for this is happening at a time when the country is still reeling from the Covid-19 outbreak – with a possible second wave – and trying to pick up the pieces in an economy battered by the pandemic.

Besides, the shocking announcement has caused unease, with people wondering whether there was indeed a formidable majority, given that Anwar did promise winning numbers in 2008 but failed to show them eventually.

The last time this numbers game was played last February, it resulted in a legitimately elected Pakatan Harapan government being brought down in a bloodless coup hatched by a group of politicians cobbled solely for the purpose of grabbing naked power.

This was how the Perikatan Nasional government came into being although with a wafer-thin majority. National life was also disrupted as a result.

More than that, the democratic right of citizens to choose their government was compromised. In this regard, the electoral winners – PH politicians – were abruptly shown the door in the middle of their term.

That is why it is a bit rich for PN politicians to accuse Anwar and his allies of disregarding the welfare of ordinary Malaysians by attempting to oust the PN government amid the pandemic and weak economy.

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To be sure, Anwar’s political act is a direct response to the power grab triggered by the so-called “Sheraton Move”, which also resulted in him losing the prime-ministership under the supposed PH arrangement.

PH’s collapse at the federal level, in turn, brought about the fall of the PH governments of Johor, Malacca, Perak and Kedah after their respective elected representatives leapfrogged. This again is yet another manifestation of the people’s choice of government being denied, which, in turn, caused political uncertainty.

Sabah was supposed to have encountered a similar fate of the above state governments. But the quick-thinking then-Chief Minister Shafie Apdal managed to outfox the politicians in their attempt to topple the government.

In a sense, the political frogs leapt in a no-fly zone, with the result that their nefarious act instead prompted the dissolution of the state assembly and, in turn, the calling of a state election.

With such unreliable politicians in mind, Anwar may have the numbers he needs to form a government, but what guarantee has he that his proposed government would not collapse subsequently by possible machinations of some of the motley politicians who join him? Are Malaysians supposed to be subjected to yet another ugly cycle of government collapse?

Are there not enough politicians whose integrity we can count on so that a smooth functioning of democracy would not be disrupted again?

That is why concerned Malaysians are anxious to know whether politicians who are said to have switched support to Anwar come from a cohort that have baggage unsavoury enough for pursuit by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney General’s Chambers.

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Given the seriousness of the matter, perhaps there is also a need to revisit the issue of having an ‘anti-hopping’ law to combat political uncertainty and the desecration of the people’s right to choose their government.

The nation, which is confronted with a pandemic and economic problems afflicting particularly the vulnerable, cannot afford to be waylaid by self-serving politicians.

Source: themalaysianinsight.com

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