UMNO lawmakers remain petrified on what’s to come

IF the Agong does not appoint a new Prime Minister soon or install the proposed National Recovery Council (NRC) to replace the Cabinet, Prime Minister Mahiaddin Yassin may remain until GE15 if he doesn’t do a Badawi like in 2009.

The no-confidence motion will not happen unless tabled by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. In that case, by convention, the Speaker would have to give it priority.

Minority government is lawful. It’s the passage of bills in Parliament that decide whether a government stands or falls. Our politicians have not embraced that culture yet.

Any other Member of Parliament can also table a motion of no confidence. The Speaker will simply tuck it at the bottom after Government business.

It will not see the light of day as with the hudud bill proposed as a private Member’s Bill by PAS Leader and Marang MP Tuan Guru Haji Abdul Awang. These are proactive moves.

Recall that Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the country’s fifth prime minister, stepped down when the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition lost five states in GE12 on March 8, 2008.

It’s easy to remember that on the same day, MIC chief and senior minister S. Samy Vellu was vanquished in Sungei Siput by newcomer Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj. Samy called it “a ‘nice’ birthday present”.

This writer has previously suggested, as before Badawi in 2009, that Mahiaddin had included nine Opposition lawmakers in the Cabinet for ‘political stability’ until the next General Election (GE).

Even without the Opposition Nine, the 38 UMNO lawmakers in fact provide a ‘sea of stability’ in the PN+ Government.

Although political stability appears lacking, that may be the public perception, and not grounded in realities. Unfortunately, politics may be more about public perceptions.

It’s true that there’s real disconnect between the UMNO General Assembly (GA), the Supreme Council and the party’s 38 lawmakers in Parliament.

UMNO lawmakers, traumatised by GE14, clearly remain petrified on the way forward. However, they may not rock the boat before 2023 when the GA expects the lawmakers to leave the Government.

The lawmakers, like the GA, may remain persuaded that ‘the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’.

Again, this is where the GA and the lawmakers part company. The jury may not be out for long on the matter.

The lawmakers may well remain with PN+ for GE15 and not go solo, risking everything by putting all their eggs in the BN basket.

The other BN parties – MIC, MCA and PBRS – have given no indication that they will withdraw from the PN+ Government for GE15.

PAS, a member of the informal Muafakat Nasional (MN) with UMNO, has already become a PN member.

UMNO, without the 38 lawmakers, BN and MN in tow for GE15, faces certain political suicide.

Still, it can go for broke solo, win or lose, and live to fight another day even if whittled down further by defections after the general election. In that case, it will be a long stretch in the political wilderness before it comes in from the cold.

The UMNO Supreme Council has already withdrawn support for the PM but not the PN+ Government earlier this month.

It may be more than indulging in wishful thinking and living on hope if Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob replaces Mahiaddin.

The DPM’s post is not in the Constitution. The DPM cannot replace the PM unless the entire Cabinet steps down as well. Ismail Sabri, if appointed PM, can set up his own Cabinet.

Ismail Sabri, replacing Mahiaddin as Prime Minister, is easier said than done.

The power of incumbency is with Mahiaddin Yassin as Prime Minister.

The Government can always form the NRC as a Panel of subject matter experts to vet the National Recovery Plan (NRP) announced by Mahiaddin.

The NRC can assist the Cabinet in reducing politicking and suggest ‘living with the virus’ without harping too much on science and data.

It may be possible to live with the virus without vaccination. Again, it may not be possible to live with the virus without vaccination. Those are the two extremes facing the whole world in dealing with the pandemic.

No country in the world has taken many steps as in Malaysia in dealing with the pandemic. It’s high time that we stop being bad to ourselves. We have to ask the question: “What’s life all about?”

The world will laugh at Malaysia if former Interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, 96, heads the NRC.

Mahathir has to learn to let go, move on and never looking back even if the sky falls down. It’s no longer his problem.

Having said that, there are realities in the streets that can’t be wished away, including the various flag movements.

Mahiaddin suggested the people hoist the blue flag, the colour of the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN), for obvious reasons.

#KibarkanBenderaHitam wants the Prime Minister gone by July 16.

In fact, as reported by the media, the NGOs gathered on July 14 at Istana Negara and submitted a memorandum on the matter.

There’s no shame in #KibarkanBenderaPutih. There’s only so much the Government can do.

Mahiaddin took liberties with the truth when he claimed that “the kitchens were full with supplies”. He vowed to help ‘the few’ who had somehow fallen through the crevices and were in dire straits.

The ‘White Flag’ movement could be a permanent institution. It has existed in India for thousands of years.

No one goes hungry in India. Neighbours feed neighbours in that country. Anyone could turn up on a doorstep and be fed. Temples feed the people and provide overnight stay when hotels are full or when one cannot afford the room tariffs. – July 16, 2021.

By : Joe Fernandez (A long-time Borneo watcher & a FocusM contributor) – FOCUS MALAYSIA

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Stringer

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