JUST barely a year ago, most of the Cabinet ministers in the unity government, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PMX), Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook and Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu were in the Opposition camp.
Most of them from Pakatan Harapan (PH) have been in the Opposition for many decades.
Now, the Opposition comprises of Perikatan Nasional (PN) lawmakers, mainly from Bersatu and PAS although non-Malay Gerakan is also part of the PN set-up.
By observing the passion that drives the Opposition members, it is possible to know whether they would eventually make good cabinet ministers when they form a new government.
What drives them?
When PH was in the Opposition, their focus was mainly against corruption. Efforts were spent on digging into corruption scandals involving past prime ministers (PM) and their cabinet ministers.
A number of these scandals were successfully harped on that created people’s concerns about the level of corruption involving billions of ringgit.
During the era of the country’s fourth premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, these cases included the Bank Bumiputra Finance, Perwaja Steel, Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), concessions, to name a few.
There were a lot of sensations created by the Opposition which led to the gradual erosion of people’s confidence in the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. Dr Mahathir was widely condemned as the “great pharaoh (Maha Firaun)”.
The 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) scandal which was exposed by the then Opposition leaders such as Rafizi Ramli (now Economy Minister) and Tony Pua (former Damansara MP) made the duo very popular. Their exposé also received a lot of support from the civil society.
This has eventually led to the incarceration of sixth premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Till today, Najib’s 1MDB trial is still ongoing, although the facts of the case have been established by the US Department of Justice, including a court case which found former banker, Roger Ng guilty.
The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) scandal also received a lot of media coverage when PH was in the Opposition but the pursuit of the culprits has taken a backseat after the unity government was formed.
This shows that some of these exposés were done with the intention to win brownie points instead of going after the culprits. Another issue that has somehow ‘faded into the oblivion’ touched on the environment such as the controversy surrounding Lynas Rare Earth refinery in Pahang.
PN as Opposition
What is obvious now is that unlike their PH counterparts, PN lawmakers currently in the Opposition bloc are more interested in harping on issues related to Islam.
In nearly every parliamentary session this year, numerous issues were raised by PAS parliamentarians, notably on the Israel-Hamas conflicts some 7,500km away instead of the eviction of Kampung Baru residents in the heart of the city or the installation of incinerators for solid waste management around the country.
The recent walkout by PN lawmakers on Sept 19 was unnecessary. They should have instead taken up a debate with Anwar who claimed that during PN’s administration, many court cases were also dropped despite these cases having established the prima facie.
Radzi should have enough guts to challenge Anwar to provide evidence of these court cases. Instead, he lashed out with his demand to PMX to withdraw his “malicious” statement, sparking a prolonged exchange of words that forced the Dewan Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul to eject him.
The other PN lawmakers also missed an opportunity to debate Anwar’s argument that during PN’s administration, a number of court cases were also dropped. The entire episode focused on deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi’s discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA), yet it ended nowhere due to the Opposition’s antics.
PN lawmakers are also very weak in bringing on issues relating to corruption involving members of the cabinet. Even when there were alleged corruption scandals involving Human Resources Minister V. Sivakumar’s aides, the issue did not receive much attention from Opposition lawmakers.
Instead, it was Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim (PKR) who urged the minister to take leave while the investigation was conducted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Some PN leaders such as Bersatu Indera Mahkota MP Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah who now belongs to the “collapsed government” (borrowing his own words when he chided Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh previously) is hardly speaking up. There is hardly anything intelligent coming out from the former foreign minister.
Unlike Anwar who took on the role of Opposition leader, the fact that the PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin assigned the lead role to Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Zainuddin Hamzah also shows that the Bersatu president is not a strong leader himself.
How then can the Opposition become a good government to run the country unless they can shine as Opposition leaders? – Nov 12, 2023