100 days of Covid-19 and politics

PM needs to appease all PN MPs to ensure their support and perhaps, their loyalty


THE Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has passed the 100th day mark with one most notable achievement (so far) — containing the Covid-19 spread in the country.

Imposing the Movement Control Order (MCO) for almost 90 days was not an easy decision to make, but Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture), under the advice of the Health Ministry, had to place the public’s health and safety as his utmost priority. Thankfully, with the public’s cooperation, the effort paid off.

“I resigned to the fact that I came in as your PM not at the best moment. I have to face a political, economic and health crisis all at the same time,” Muhyiddin said when announcing the RM250 billion stimulus package meant to address the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

Now that Malaysia is entering the Recovery MCO period, the nation’s attention is steadily shifting towards the rather unsettling political scene.

Earlier murmurs asking for a snap are getting louder by the day and seem to be echoing on various social media platforms.

The loudest would notably be initiated by Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi himself, who shared a picture of him with former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak on his Twitter.

His caption, “We are ready for the 15th General Election (GE15), are you ready with us?”, seems to sum it all up nicely.

Subsequently, Ahmad Zahid also wrote: “Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect. Are we ready for GE15?”

PAS secretary general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan reportedly said the Islamist party is also ready to face the GE, and the party’s effort includes finalising seats distribution among its coalition partners.

However, Umno VP Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin downplayed the statement on Sunday, saying that parties under PN had not committed to any preparation for the possible poll.

There’d be no smoke without fire, some would say. Still, the calls for snap polls do beg a question: Is everything well at the federal level?

There have also been reports quoting Umno leaders of how PN is a non-binding cooperation.

As PN is managing legitimacy issues, the psy-war from Pakatan Harapan supporters also continues to intensify, urging the people’s mandate to be returned to the coalition, while some Barisan

Nasional leaders argued that the mandate should be returned via fresh polls.

Putting Malaysia’s readiness to hold a fresh election (amid a pandemic recovery aside), who will benefit the most from this fresh election?

All this, while the people are suffering. For the ones who have been laid off or struggling to put a meal on the table, deciding on who would represent them might be the last thing on their minds.

Additionally, for some voters, the political fatigue is real. Some even questioned whether there is a need to vote when the politicians are able to switch sides anytime at their whims and fancies.

There have been talks that GE15 could be held as early as in July, and that Sarawak may hold its election following the Parliament’s dissolution. This, however, remains as coffee talks at this stage.

With a majority of two seats at Dewan Rakyat, the PN-led government is the most vulnerable government in the nation’s history, and for a short while, it has become the first Malaysian government with a single seat majority, following the resignation of Sri Gading MP Datuk Dr Shahruddin Md Salleh as deputy works minister.

PN managed to retain its two-seat edge after Lubok Antu MP Tambat Jugah Muyang pledged his support to PN after quitting PKR. As mentioned earlier, with a razorthin edge against the Opposition, PN remains in a shaky and uncertain position. Alas, it has little room to navigate in Dewan Rakyat.

The PM needs to appease all of the PN MPs to ensure their support and perhaps the most overrated commodity in politics: Loyalty. The question is, at what cost?

Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.