When Or When Will We See A New Government


 

We’ve entered the fifth day after the Nov 19 general election, yet we are no nearer to a solution to the hung Parliament.
Although most of us felt or were told by analysts that the 15th general election would not see any coalition getting a clear majority and that there was the possibility of a hung Parliament, we had hoped for the best.
But our hopes were dashed. We not only have a hung Parliament but the situation threatens to create even more uncertainty and instability – at least for now.
The election result has opened up a conflict situation not just among parties which stood in the elections but also among their supporters on social media. I fear it threatens to divide Malaysians even further.
Umno is the most disunited party right now, although it is turning out to be the kingmaker post-GE15.
Instead of putting forward a united front and gaining as much as possible from its kingmaker status, it is struggling to stay on its feet because its leaders and MPs have been disagreeing on what is good for the party.
It has taken Umno – once the most powerful and stable party – four days to make a decision on which coalition it should support.
After a three-hour Umno Supreme Council meeting last night, its secretary-general Ahmad Maslan issued a statement saying the party supported the idea of being part of a unity government. “This is to ensure a stable and prosperous government can be formed,” he said.
There was a caveat though: Umno, it said, would be part of a unity government that was not led by Perikatan Nasional (PN).
That means, or should mean, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) will throw its 30 seats behind Pakatan Harapan (PH), which has the highest number of MPs at 82. However, by not specifically mentioning PH, Umno has left us guessing.
It also stressed that it was ready for a unity government because Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah had proposed it.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabunga Rakyat Sabah, working as a bloc, had indicated several times that they’d want to tie up with BN and PN.
Now, they say they will heed the views of the King and go for a unity government. However, they have not indicated if they would team-up with PH.
If all this has not muddied the waters enough, PAS president Hadi Awang said this morning that PN was at the forefront of the race to form the federal government.
He added in a Facebook post: “They plan. Allah plans. We are on the right side. God willing we will be protected, the country will be protected.”
The King, noting the magnitude of the problem, is meeting with his fellow Malay rulers today to discuss the matter.
Amid all this uncertainty, electoral reform group Bersih has proposed power-sharing instead of a unity government to resolve the impasse over the formation of a new government.
It suggests that either PH or PN should lead the government, with the other leading a shadow Cabinet.
The smaller blocs and parties can be a junior partner in a coalition government; become an opposition that backs the government based on a confidence and supply agreement (CSA); or be a full opposition.
“Regardless whether it is a majority coalition government or a minority government backed by a CSA, such a government fulfils the need of Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution,” it said, referring to the stipulation that the prime minister should command the confidence of the majority.
This sounds like a good plan. However, as PH has the most number of seats, it should be given the first option to lead the government. It’s ability to command support, I feel, can then be tested on the floor of the Dewan Rakyat.
As Bersih says, having several parties or coalitions form a unity government will result in a bloated Cabinet as every party’s interest would have to be taken into consideration.
I remember how disappointed Malaysians were with the large Cabinets of both Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri Yaakob. They have always called for a leaner and more effective Cabinet.Bersih also notes that if almost everyone is in the unity government, the problem of having a proper check and balance would arise. But I don’t see this as a major problem if either PH or PN were to form the opposition.
However, I agree with its contention that given the deep cleavage between these parties, a grand coalition or unity government may not have the coherence to pursue clear goals.
“Instead of working together, it risks having government parties and ministers contradicting or criticising each other, as what we have seen in the 32 months post-Sheraton Move,” according to Bersih.
And we certainly don’t want to see Sheraton Move 2.0, just as we don’t want to see a continuation of the unstable situation when Muhyiddin and Ismail were heading the government.
Malaysians yearn for stability, less politicking and competent politicians at the helm of the nation. - FMT
The views expressed as those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.


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