WHETHER MUDA president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has the moral ground to distance himself from the unity is being debated.
While some quarters are questioning the Muar MP’s political credibility, there are others who are crediting him for questioning the unity government for going back on its institutional reforms.
The focus now is not about the need for wide ranging reforms but why the Kuala Lumpur High Court gave a conditional discharge (DNAA) for Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the misappropriation of funds belonging to his Akalbudi foundation.
Whether the government had a role in the discharge of Zahid is subjected to intense debate and acrimony in the country.
The crux of the matter is this: can the much publicised reform-minded government of Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim manage the discharge without major political repercussions?
Even if the PH-BN coalition had won in the recent parliamentary and state elections in Johor, such a victory cannot be narrowly interpreted that Zahid’s discharge had no role in the elections.
The low voter turnout in both the elections might not have been due to the rain alone but voter disenchantment with politics in the country.
It would not be far-fetched to link this anger to the egregious mistake made in discharging Zahid from the 47 criminal charges.
The point is the DNAA is going to be a sore thumb to the unity government for a while. It is very difficult to convince the public that the government had no role in the court decision.
The court could not be blamed as the decision was presented to it as a fait accompli by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) which is something that the court could not reject.
If the blame is cast on the former attorney-general (AG), then the question is whether he reached the decision to discharge Zahid – such a high-profile case – without consulting the government or Anwar in particular.
Was the former AG that powerful enough that he could render such a decision that was highly politically explosive without consulting the PM?
I doubt even if the former AG is summoned to the Parliament or some other venue, he could provide a satisfactory explanation to the public.
It would be mere repetition of what he might have already formally presented – the reasons why he opted to give a DNAA.
The damage has been irreparably done even if the government continues to pursue the line that it had no role in the discharge given to Zahid.
It is difficult to digest the argument that the former AG had such an independent role that there was no necessity to consult anyone, including the PM.
Hence, the decision taken by Syed Saddiq not to be part of the unity government is a reflection of his displeasure with how Zahid’s case was managed.
Whether he has ulterior motives or not is difficult to say but what is significant was his move not to be part of the unity government was predicated on the discharge of Zahid.
The ultimate question is this: whether the unity government has the credibility and legitimacy to pursue the much-needed reforms in the country under the weight of the Zahid’s discharge impasse. – Sept 13, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.