pic by RAZAK GHAZALI
CAPABLE of causing a stampede, the rush to decry the speculated move to form a “backdoor government” came from all walks — friends and foe.
Indeed, the opposition to the “backdoor government” — which is purportedly being manoeuvred by PAS, with most Umno leaders and lawmakers, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, a faction from PKR, lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak and stragglers from other political parties — comes from a cross-section of the society.
The narrative of the backdoor government is simply a case of these groups of lawmakers getting together and plotting to ensure that Prime Minister (PM)-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim remains just that — in-waiting.
The lawmakers, in particular from PAS, had publicly stated that they are planning to table in Parliament a motion during its next session on a vote of confidence for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to stay on for the full term, which expires by mid-2023.
And to strengthen their case, it seems they had all put their intentions in writing, on signed statutory declarations and they claim to have the numbers, ie way more than the required 112 simple majority in the 222-strong Dewan Rakyat.
However, advocates of the vote of confidence had denied that they intend to set up a new government post the vote of confidence motion. Their intention in wanting Dr Mahathir to remain as PM is simply because changing horses midstream will only worsen the economic and political uncertainties.
And to them, they trusted Dr Mahathir to be able to lead the nation out of the woods if he is given the mandate to serve full term.
Opinions on the vote of confidence seem to allude that it had no bearing nor any weightage unless a vote of no confidence precedes it.
Only then, the vote of confidence fulfils the constitutional provision that the PM must be one who commands the majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.
Given the fact that Dr Mahathir is the sitting PM and that a vote of no confidence had not been initiated, the vote of confidence will only serve as a reminder that the sitting PM has the moral legitimacy to hold on to his post.
But the moral issue that’s being raised is on the “backdoor government” and that it was against the aspiration of the people who voted for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the last polls.
It sounds right, but when it comes from those who supported and gleeful of the possibilities of a successful backdoor government bid on Sept 16, 2008, morality is obviously the least of their concern.
The Sept 16 move was a bid by the then Anwar-led Opposition Pakatan Rakyat, comprising PKR, DAP and PAS, to reverse an earlier national polls which saw the Barisan Nasional (BN) government losing its twothirds majority.
The Opposition only needed 30 MPs from BN to switch and the Opposition would take over the government.
Anwar, on occasions leading to Sept 16, had announced of having the numbers and was giving then PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a bit of time to concede gracefully. Abdullah did not concede and neither did Anwar become the PM.
If the Opposition does not have the moral standing to denounce any backdoor government, neither does anyone from Umno having that right. A few months after Anwar failed in his Sept 16 bid, in early 2009, BN turned the table.
Three state assembly representatives from Pakatan Rakyat switched camps, leading to the collapse of the state government and the formation of a new one under BN. The change was decried as immoral and against the wishes of the people.
It is probably important to note that a few weeks before the switching of the three Pakatan Rakyat representatives, an Umno/BN assemblyman crossed over to Pakatan Rakyat with much fanfare and only to see him revert to Umno/BN a couple of weeks later.
That incident, claimed Umno/BN supporters, triggered or intensified their efforts to take over the Perak state government.
The moral of the story is that, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones or rather, those who live by the sword die by the sword.
Back to the current situation. All the narratives point towards it being immoral because it is not what the people aspire for when they decided to vote for PH.
However, in the last five by-elections, PH had been mauled by the self-styled Muafakat Nasional, led by PAS and Umno, and endorsed by the MIC and MCA.
Each component had been giving their analysis of the outcome, but quite a number had insisted that they were referendums to Dr Mahathir’s leadership.
Of course, none wanted to wade into the possibility that someone or some groups from within PH had preferred to see the results as such to allow for such analysis to be churned.
Nevertheless, if the by-election is the yardstick of contemporary people’s wishes, then taking the Tanjung Piai outcome, the voters, Malays and non-Malays alike, preferred Muafakat Nasional to PH.
If Muafakat Nasional wants Dr Mahathir to stay put, can it then be concluded that the Opposition, who are enjoying a good run, are merely responding to the popular sentiments of the grassroots, while waiting for a conclusive show vis-à-vis a general poll? Unlikely, as they serve not the hallowed.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.