An uninspiring spree

graphic by MZUKRI

SOME view it as ironic while others find it ominous. But there is no humour, even dark humour, when it was pointed out that while a number of Malaysians face and anticipate joblessness, MPs are on an employment spree.

And these appointments to government-linked companies (GLCs), or special positions, care not for paper qualifications nor experience. All that is required is for them to support the current government and prime minister (PM), widely perceived for the eventuality of a vote of no confidence.

Of course, it can be argued that the appointments of ordinary Malaysians to the jobs they seek cannot be equated to the appointments of MPs to these GLCs and so forth as comparing apples and oranges.

But surely, the manner these positions, which offer substantial monetary returns, are offered on such a spree at this period of time had been done in bad taste and smacked of blatant disregard for good governance and public opinion.

It can be argued that the current government has not done anything wrong as it is not bound by any manifesto or electoral promises. There is a lot of truth to that as it does not owe any allegiance to Pakatan Harapan (PH) nor to Barisan Nasional, which contested as the two opposing blocks in the last general election, while PAS is merely being PAS.

Hence, the need for the government to seek some semblance of legitimacy.

Thus far, with a bloated Cabinet of more than 70, apart from other posts as government envoys with ministerial status and appointments of some to GLCs, the current government should have reached if not surpassed the 112 required simple majority in Parliament.

Thus, it came as a surprise over its “reluctance” of facing a vote of no confidence in Parliament, a motion that had been accepted by the Speaker.

If the motion was tabled and debated and the House found the vote of no confidence had failed, the government would have in fact found some kind of legitimacy, though not likely to be substantial, to its questionable existence.

There is, however, a bigger hurdle that PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin faces in this numbers game and a lot of it lies in the cases involving the kleptocrats because they too are part of those who had been listed as supporting him in bringing about the fall of PH and the formation of the new government.

If they are found guilty in their dozens of cases, would they continue supporting Muhyiddin? Would other MPs closely aligned to them continue supporting Muhyiddin’s government?

With the razor-thin majority, it is no surprise that the buying spree among MPs will continue.

On the flip side, PH is trying to regroup and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposed motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin is also a statement of intent that they are not going to allow the government stolen from under them to get away without being challenged.

There are, however, critics who felt that such effort is an exercise in futility as even if the motion succeeded, then PH would return to its old turmoil, whereby the “squabble” between Dr Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be rekindled.

Indeed, such political baggage is to be expected, but if all parties concerned were able to go back to the PH presidential council decision on Feb 21 when the leadership transition was amicably settled, then it should solve much of the misgivings.

There are also critics who blamed all the debacle on Dr Mahathir and he was accused of courting PAS and Umno when he was in the driver’s seat.

Such views obviously refused to accept the reality of what had developed then, whereby the majority of Malays were feeling sidelined and that the government then was impervious of their plight. Such sentiments, whether true or merely promoted and amplified sentiments, did not take away from the fact that the nation faced the possibility of an implosion, racial and religious.

In fact, it was those sentiments that Muhyiddin rode on and led to the realisation of the current government.

But much as Dr Mahathir had entertained Umno and PAS, he did not end up with them as Muhyiddin did. Instead, he opposed Muhyiddin’s move and argued that it was against his principle to abandon PH, which was democratically elected by the people in the last general election.

As witnessed today, if Dr Mahathir had gone along with Umno and PAS, he would still be sitting pretty. However, he stood by PH, warts and all, and lost his prime ministership.

And he is not one to take the betrayal and backdoor government manoeuvrings lying down, pressing for a vote of no confidence against Muhyiddin.

Supporters of PH and those unhappy with the backdoor government have a choice — to bicker over the shortcomings of the coalition and let the Muhyiddin-led government continue, or at least support efforts to dislodge it.

In fact, they should demand PH take up the cudgel. It may not recapture the May 9, 2018, spirit in entirety, but it will go a long way in the democratisation of the nation.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.