THE decision by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) leadership to accept all the four Bersatu MPs who have begun to support the unity government by way of a loophole in the anti-party hopping law is fraught with danger and could even lead to a Sheraton 2.0 move.
The anti-party hopping law which was rushed through the legislature has a number of loopholes, one of which can be manipulated by the defecting MPs under the guise of wanting parliamentary allocations for their constituents to go against their own party.
This could even turn out to be a trap by the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition to test the effectiveness of the anti-hopping legislation.
If these four MPs can now support the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim administration, why can’t it also be vice-versa?
The unity government is still holding on to a two thirds majority even though MUDA MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s refusal to render support meant that there is currently one seat short of a two thirds majority.
Having been convicted on corruption charges recently, the Muar MP is definitely not going to support the unity government any longer and may even hope that PN will capitalise on the void.
Even then, there is no valid reason to invite trouble by admitting Bersatu Party MPs to shore up the already overwhelming support for the unity government.
Whatever the case it, it seems that the Anwar administration is uninterested in carrying out major reforms as promised to the electorate who rallied to return Pakatan Harapan (PH) to power just a year ago yesterday (Nov 19) in the 15th General Election (GE15).
A simple majority will suffice to enact a host of new crucial reforms while a two thirds majority is only necessary for constitutional changes. Then why is there a need for wanting the support of opposition MPs knowing full well the inherent danger in the process?
Why if PN retaliate by enticing PH MPs especially from UMNO who oppose the party’s acceptance of DAP as its ally?
Disgruntlement within UMNO
It is an open secret that UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has a tenuous hold on the party even as its own MPs not to mention Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties are very much disillusioned and frustrated by the failure of the unity government’s indifference to resolve the hardship of the people through effective socio-economic programmes and initiatives.
It must be noted that most of the UMNO MPs after the GE15 were ready to join a PN government before the UMNO president reined them in to support the PH coalition very much to the dislike of many.
If the four Bersatu MPs can switch support without running afoul of the anti-party hopping law, then what is there to prevent UMNO and BN MPs from doing likewise to support PN or may be stay neutral?
This could then elicit calls for a no-confidence vote in Parliament and pave the way for more political instability. The support of the East Malaysian parties will be crucial in a renewed tug-of-war reminiscent of the November 2022 post-GE15 horse trading.
Even with the current one-year political stability, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has done little to ease the hardship of the people; therefore, one can surmise that the unity government will be in a state of paralysis if it faced a graver chaotic situation.
Face the reality, PH
The Indian community has become very much disillusioned and disappointed by the PH government to the extent they no longer mind it if there was a change in the administration.
The Chinese – though even more upset at PM Anwar’s performance – have no plausible alternative but to stick with the DAP and support the UG. Having burnt all their bridges, the Chinese will have to put up with the PH government.
The Malay community mainly supports the PN and would be happy to see the PH government go. It is in this kind of risky scenario that the PH government is accepting the support of the Opposition MPs and rocking the boat.
They could very well be Trojan horses. There are also reports of more MPs wanting to support PM Anwar according to PH sources.
As is well known, Malaysia is notorious for the fact that MPs and state assemblymen can be lured and bought over with the right political or monetary inducements. Many past incidents and episodes show that this is always possible.
The Najib factor could be a further trigger for UMNO MPs who want to jump ship and who are impatient at the lack of any positive moves to get the incarcerated former premier a royal pardon before the term of the present Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) ends in January 2024.
With such possibilities opening up, PN might be tempted to entice PH MPs with lucrative offers to join hands with them to form the government. All that is needed is for a no-confidence vote against the unity government.
Anyway, this practice has been initiated and supported by PH when it accepted the support of the four MPs. Now there is nothing to stop PN from doing likewise.
PN could use this window of opportunity unwittingly created by PH and it may have to do so fast when the opportunity presents itself.
The term of the present King who is very much liked for his friendliness and affability ends on Jan 30, and his successor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, is known to be a stern figure who may not tolerate any attempt to wantonly de-stabilise or ruin the country’s political future during his reign. – Nov 20, 2023
V. Thomas is a Focus Malaysia reader.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main pic credit: Free Malaysia Today