PETALING JAYA : Opposition MPs are hoping that prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s offer to join the National Recovery Council and Covid-19 special committee is a genuine one.
PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution was among those sceptical about the offer, citing a previous experience when necessary data requested was not forthcoming.
However, Klang MP Charles Santiago said the offer was worth considering, but the prime minister must first state the conditions behind his offer.
“This shouldn’t be a public relations (PR) exercise,” he said. “This should be done based on concrete, meaningful exchange between the government and opposition.”
Saifuddin said the opposition’s previous experience of being part of a government committee had shown it to be a cosmetic exercise, “a PR exercise to show that they are trying to reach out and accommodate the opposition’s views”
“I made special requests for daily granular data on Covid-19 and they failed to provide it even after six or seven months. It’s hard for the opposition to play a role in that committee. To be effective, we have to get access to information and briefings, but that didn’t happen,” he said.
Saifuddin, Loke Siew Fook of DAP, and Dzulkefly Ahmad of Amanah were the three opposition MPs on a special independent committee formed in January to advise the King about the Covid-19 pandemic and the state of Emergency,
Last month, the Muhyiddin Yassin government formed the National Recovery Council to supervise the recovery plan for moving beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. The Council’s members include government officials, business leaders and health experts. Pakatan Harapan (PH), Warisan and Pejuang were invited to send representatives.
The new prime minister Ismail, said today opposition members would be invited to be part of a Covid-19 special committee.
Santiago said Ismail’s gesture should be considered by the opposition but the prime minister must first make the offer formal and clearly state the aim of the task force and the conditions behind his offer.
What the King said to parties
Amanah secretary-general Hatta Ramli said Ismail should remember that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had told party leaders earlier this week that “the winner does not win everything, the loser does not lose everything”.
“Does he (Ismail) think this (offer) reflects the wishes of the Agong?” he said.
Sepanggar MP Azis Jamman of Warisan said Ismail’s offer should not be made just to ease the political tension. He questioned if opposition MPs had any impact while they were on the independent committee to advise the King on Covid-19 and the state of Emergency.
“Of course I welcome Ismail’s speech to urge all MPs to put aside their differences and work together to save the Malaysian Family,” said Azis. “I just want to advise him not to repeat the mistakes made by Muhyiddin. All parties, including the opposition, should be involved because we are now at war… The dead are not PH, Perikatan Nasional (PN) or Warisan supporters, but Malaysians.”
Time to move on
Pengerang MP Azalina Othman Said, who is deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, said Ismail’s speech was a great start to lowering the temperature in the house, which will sit next month.
“I pray all parties will stand down and walk the talk on wanting to move on from the political crisis for the sake of the nation,” she said.
Mersing MP Abdul Latiff Ahmad of Bersatu said he was happy that Ismail has indicated a continuation of the previous administration’s efforts. “It is a good sign that he looks intent on continuing the PN government’s efforts to strike a balance between lives and livelihoods,” said Latiff who was rural development minister in the Muhyiddin government.
“Covid-19 has damaged the economy, now it’s time to rebuild, just as how our forefathers rebuilt the nation after the May 13 riots,” he said.
By : Jason Thomas – FMT