Once a year Parliament becomes a genuine deadly threat to the executive in Malaysia, which has to a very large degree sidelined this ‘sovereign representative body of the people’.
This is the point at which the budget must be passed in order to allow the PM and his ministers to keep raising cash from taxes and crucially, of course, to approach lenders to borrow money.
From there flows all the public money that pays for their own inflated salaries and perks, their allowances and staff and not least the many contracts passing through their ministries, which unfortunately in Malaysia too often end up in the hands of connected parties.
Mahiaddin had a hard enough time getting a majority last December and the matter has focused the mind of his successor as the top priority – access to cash. This is not a situation where the Speaker can be instructed by his patron (the PM) to refuse to table a vote or a discussion. The budget must be tabled and voted through or PN will not get its cash and the government will collapse.
So, what to do? Once again the King has come behind to vocally support his appointee as some form of ‘moral’ pressure. And once again, PH component leaders are showing their willingness not to be seen as rebels to rock the boat. But what is really pushing the willing compliance in the matter from the opposition whose job is to hold the government to account if they disagree with anything it does?
Under this latest political ‘MOU’ a thin set of ‘reforms’ has been bargained in return for PH compliance, bearing in mind that the day after the PN leadership lay hands on the money they will ignore any commitments for another year. Top of the agenda is agreement to enact a law that has already been passed and needs no further negotiation because the government is already obliged (as the courts have pointed out) to allow 18 and overs to vote.
Yet this is being treated as a concession somehow ‘won’ by the opposition. It prompts the question that if PN are willing to ignore an Act of Parliament how can they be trusted to abide by a commitment once the money is in their hands?
What about a proper reform, such as an independent reconfiguration of the electoral boundaries in Malaysia which are so corrupted and gerrymandered that PN parties could win an election with just 17% of the total vote?
Or the cancelling of the corrupt and bloated ‘constituency allowances’ to ruling party MPs, which are designed to enable them to buy votes and perpetuate their positions and the placing of all benefit payments with the civil service for impartial distribution as in all proper democratic countries?
What about proper transparency in government contracts and grants? There is so much more.
PH negotiators have hung out for a much more modest agenda, apparently in the hope that in the long term they can claw the system back into a semblance of the original democratic model that existed before the UMNO mafia became entrenched. Select Committees to scrutinise government actions would be a start, or so they hope.
The opposition negotiators also hope to see delivery on some of these reforms BEFORE the budget as proof of some sincerity from the PN coalition of political crooks that normally noone in their right mind would trust on any level based on past performance.
However, all this is small change for an electorate that needs to see a major cleansing of a deeply corrupted government through zero tolerance, root and branch reforms that can only come with a total change of government.
So, why this tip-toe cooperative approach from PH as opposed to doing their proper job of full out opposition to a corrupted government that has lost vast sums of public money doing nothing to counter the pandemic or alleviate the public suffering caused?
Little birds are whispering that the reason is to do with PN’s mastery of the dark political arts again. If so, who would be surprised? As PN have already proven, where the blandishments of bribes and cash can fail the threat of prosecution and jail is often more effective, especially in Malaysia where the ex-PM now in charge of ‘Covid Recovery’ has himself just recently baldly stated that the executive can interfere in the outcome of such cases for their own political ends.
The whispers are that some feel vulnerable to such threats for whatever variety of reason and that the secret part of the MOU will be a commitment not to pursue such trumped up cases against PN’s opponents. The ‘reform agenda’ is thus sadly window dressing, which genuine reformers doubtless hope to make the best of for Malaysia as PN gratefully snatch their cash for dropping threatened charges.
Sarawak Report could not possibly comment on such alleged secret clauses to the MOU. But we do suggest if the little birds are right about this alleged widening of PN’s agenda not to pursue charges (they are already actively dropping charges against themselves) commitments such as these would not be worth the paper they were written on. And these will not be even written down.