IN the opinion of veteran lawmaker Lim Kit Siang, Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob would have been defeated in his first vote in Parliament on the appointment of Deputy Speaker.
What saved and spared him from being the shortest serving PM, according to the DAP adviser and the Iskandar Puteri MP, was the confidence-supply-reform (CSR) memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered into between the PM and Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders on Sept 13.
With the CSR MOU, said Lim in a press statement today, a new political landscape has been established that allowed the deputy speaker election to be postponed to the next Parliament meeting.
The MOU saved Ismail Sabri his job but the PH walked away with the first fruit of the political wedlock with the government.
In the next Parliament session, the Federal Constitution would be amended to create a third deputy speaker post exclusively for the opposition. But do we need three Deputy Speakers, more so now when government finances are weak?
While Ismail Sabri was saved early embarrassment, his party UMNO suffered a setback when no vote was taken on the proposal to appoint its secretary-general and Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan as Deputy Speaker to replace its Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.
Had a vote been taken, the chances were Ahmad would not have made it.
So the creation of a third Deputy Speaker chair exclusively for the opposition would in future facilitate the election of a government candidate for the vacant Deputy Speaker post.
Lim was being truthful and practical when he said even if plots and counter plots might lead to the toppling of Ismail Sabri, “any new 10th PM in such circumstances will not be Anwar Ibrahim.”
On the part of PH generally and Lim himself specifically, the CSR MOU is a victory of sorts.
They have been promised three reforms that form part of their 2018 election pledges, namely the anti-hopping legislation, the 18-year voting age and limiting the PM’s tenure to two terms.
For Lim, the anti-party hopping law is a sweet victory as he has been fighting for it since 1978.
He recalled that on March 21, 1978, he moved a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament for an anti-hopping law to deter political corruption and to ensure a cleaner political atmosphere but failed.
The CSR MOU has its merit and should be given a chance to succeed. The pledge of transparency and bipartisanism in the making of laws and in parliamentary affairs will enhance the process of check and balance.
Hopefully, this will in turn help to bring back confidence in the country, bar the return of kleptocrats and eradicate corruption.
God willing. – Sept 15, 2021
Veteran journalist A. Kadir Jasin is a former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) leader.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.