In need of the numbers combination to open the back door and front


IF THE raging debates are to be believed, Malaysia is almost on the verge of heralding a new back door government.

Then again, if anyone care to reflect, during the February parliamentary sitting, if the speculations were to be taken seriously, Malaysia was then in the process of anointing a new prime minister (PM) as a vote of no-confidence against the sitting PM was being pursued.

And then again, such a move, to topple the PM and to be replaced by the waiting PM or rather PM in waiting, via a non-confidence vote, had been clouding almost every parliamentary sitting since Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim won his Port Dickson seat in last year’s by-election.

And every time when the issue of putting in a motion of non-confidence against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arises, almost every politician worth his or her salt would be furnishing those who cared to listen, their take on the “numbers”.

It’s a numbers game, most would chorus. It is basically as to which side had secured the bigger numbers of MPs on their side, at minimum 112 to secure a simple majority in the 222-strong Dewan Rakyat.

If both sides are to be believed, the Dewan Rakyat needs more chairs as the numbers they claim to have would have exceeded the numbers elected in the last general election.

However, since the vote of no-confidence had not materialised, at least not yet, then it could be assumed that the initiators do not have the numbers. Or some chose to differ, that maybe, there never was any real effort to push for such a motion.

Dr Mahathir, it had been pointed out, had not seemed perturbed nor ruffled by the talk of no-confidence motion to be mounted against him. It can either be that he does not give much credence to such talks, or that he knows he has the numbers.

Now that the issue has shifted from a vote of no-confidence to that of a back door government and the one accused of hatching the plot is former Umno VP Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. It is quite interesting to see how it is fanning out.

After a “hint” from Anwar in Parliament of Sembrong’s (Hishamuddin’s parliamentary seat) plans, all four secretaries of the component parties in Pakatan Harapan (PH) issued a statement telling Hishammuddin to put a stop to his plans.

Such a statement will not be enough to stop Hishammuddin if he has already put the plan into motion. Obviously, the statement was intended to tell all and sundry that PH is united and will not allow any outside forces to break them up.

While such expressions may create the sense of a united front, they should have probably just work on the quiet to defend their numbers. But coming out to censure Hishammuddin of such an attempt only raises the spectre that he may have the numbers and not them.

Against this backdrop, enters Ronnie Liu, DAP’s man of salvo though many felt were blanks, gunning for Dr Mahathir. There were many things raised but they were mere babbles. Of any consequence was his call for Dr Mahathir to step down and that his party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) leaves PH.

Liu basically wants a government without Dr Mahathir and Bersatu, and that the government consists of Anwar as the PM, backed by the DAP, Parti Amanah Negara, PKR, Upko and Warisan. Together, Liu claimed, they have 113 MPs, ample to form a government on a simple majority.

Those are Liu’s claims. Others supporting Dr Mahathir disputed it. It is not the back door but Liu wanting to show Dr Mahathir and Bersatu the front door.

While Liu did not convince many over his claims, one thing he succeeded, exposing his hands of wanting Anwar to take over immediately, wanting Dr Mahathir to step down and wanting Bersatu out.

If the DAP chose not to distance, censure and even discipline Liu, then it can be taken that the party shared his sentiments and does not want Bersatu and Dr Mahathir in their middle anymore.

But such disputes can be put to rest. If Liu is so sure of the numbers, he should push for the vote of no-confidence to be tabled.

Then again, is Liu’s front door any better than Hishammuddin’s back door? Before the proponents of Liu get their knickers in a knot, the back door thing is not an exclusive of Hishammuddin’s.

In fact, if Hishammuddin makes any attempts to claim copyright to the back door government move, PKR should censure him and put the record straight.

PKR was way ahead than him, going back three elections ago when Barisan Nasional and Umno lost its two-thirds majority for the first time in the 2008 polls.

Not only did PKR made the move for a back door government then, it was to be made in style, to be sealed on that year’s Malaysia day and in Taiwan, a foreign land.

But, Taiwan turned out not to be a happy hunting ground and PKR with the DAP and other Opposition parties continued as an Opposition bloc in the subsequent election until Dr Mahathir joined them a decade later. Then, they reached the zenith of the nation’s political mantle, something they had dreamt for years but never to realise.

Dr Mahathir led and took them in through the front door.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.