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Year of living treacherously

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

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It is ironic to note that the label and all of its connotation can be bandied about even by those who snugly fit the bill, Mustafa K Anuar writes.

Treachery is a powerful word meaning betrayal of trust that carries a meaning that is as emotive as it is political.

When used in a national context, the term suggests a heinous deed that subverts the collective interest of the rakyat and the country as a whole. It has a chilling effect on the people.

Of late, this term has been used by certain politicians in a shrunken Dewan Rakyat session discussing the much-awaited Budget 2021.

This was prompted by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz’s threat that the government machinery – and economic recovery packages – would grind to a halt if the vital supply bill is rejected by parliamentarians, a claim refuted by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has apparently gone through a similar process.

This triggered Arau MP Shahidan Kassim to warn that whoever rejects the Budget would be deemed a traitor -a very strong word indeed that was trained at former health minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

To be sure, former Prime Minister Najib Razak did declare that Barisan Nasional would only support the Budget if the government agreed to extend the loan moratorium and allow workers to withdraw Employees Provident Fund savings of RM10,000 in a lump sum.

Umno advisory council chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah called on lawmakers to think about their constituents’ interests and not merely adhere to party orders when deciding which way to vote.

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The opposition too has its complaints about the Budget, one of which is a controversial RM85.5m allocation to Jasa, or Special Affairs Department, that was disbanded under the Pakatan Harapan government.

Opposition leaders also rightly argued that as representatives of the people, the MPs have a crucial responsibility to ensure that the Budget would adequately benefit the people. To rubber stamp the proposed Budget would be a dereliction of their duties and betrayal of the people’s trust.

Concerned Malaysians would obviously expect the opposition not to oppose the budget merely for the sake of opposing, but to scrutinise its various aspects with the people’s interests and their current economic hardship in mind.

As many of us are aware, the Bdget is the first litmus test on the political legitimacy of the nine-month-old Muhyiddin Yassin government wiith a majority that is wafer-thin – and made thinner by the recent death of BN Gerik MP Hasbullah Osman. A rejection of the Budget has the potential to cause the government to collapse.

To reiterate, the accusations of treachery and supposed betrayal of the interests of the people, which are being hurled by those supporting the Budget, must be seen in the present tense political context.

The last time the term was applied and it gained currency was when the PH government fell under the weight of the shenanigans of its defectors and others of similar ilk.

For PH and its supporters, the people’s mandate and trust were betrayed by the very people now leading the government, which puts their political legitimacy into question. It is easy to understand why the latter are seen to be the embodiment of betrayal.

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It is ironic to note that the label and all of its connotation can be bandied about even by those who snugly fit the bill.

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