Interim unity govt could solve political deadlock

Expert says the challenge hinges on the person who is the helm, who could steer the govt with appropriate check and balance

by AFIQ AZIZ / graphic by MZUKRI

A UNITY government could be the best solution to stabilise the prevailing uncertainties in the country’s current political landscape before the next general election.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s politics and international relation Associate Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said a unity government might be able to ease the crisis that is faced by the various factions as Malaysia faces the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic.

However, he said the unity government is only a temporary solution before Malaysians could make the best decision in the next polls.

“Of course, if we were to decide on this, it must be granted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and agreed by the majority of MPs. It needs strong political will by all parties,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

The suggestion is made based on the series of political announcements by the Opposition, as well as parties within the ruling coalition, which are viewed by many as triggers that might jeopardise the existence of Perikatan Nasional, led by Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Last Tuesday, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he had a strong and formidable majority support, including from members of the ruling coalition, to form a new government.

Anwar presented his case when he was granted an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

On the same day, Gua Musang MP Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Tengku Hamzah was summoned to the Palace, which led to further speculations that the Umno veteran was making his move to topple Muhyiddin’s administration.

Umno, with an en bloc support of 38 seats to Muhyiddin, in turn, was also mulling to withdraw their support to Muhyiddin, stating that a new “written terms” must be agreed for the party to maintain its support.

Last Friday, former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four MPs from the yet-to-be-registered Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, also submitted their letters to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, seeking a no-confidence motion towards Muhyiddin.

The non-partisan government, earlier mooted by Dr Mahathir when he held the interim PM post in late February, comprises support from all parties in the country, without any apparent Opposition.

Mohd Azizuddin said the challenge of having a unity government would, however, hinge on the person who is the helm, who could steer the government with appropriate check and balance.

“But we need Opposition to criticise the government move and policy. A government without Opposition is not healthy,” he said.

Mohd Azizuddin said Barisan Nasional, formed in 1973 after the 1969 racial riot, was also based on the unity government concept with Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, People’s Progressive Party and PAS as part of the alliance, while DAP remained as the Opposition.

On the other hand, Universiti Malaya economics Prof Datuk Dr Rajah Rasiah said it is unclear if a unity government could address the economic downturn amid the pandemic.

“Since I have not seen tangible initiatives by those who could possibly attract sufficient support to lead, I believe the royalty should play a greater role at this point in time if such a government is viewed as the only choice now.

“The unity government only has a better chance to succeed if our King and the conference of rulers can negotiate the introduction of a ‘war-time PM’, who should then be given sufficient support to address the critical issues of containing Covid-19 and reviving economic growth,” he told TMR in an email reply.

He said the new Cabinet, if any, should comprise MPs with a good track record and adhere to certain performance standards.

“Also, the Cabinet needs serious pruning. It is way too large now,” he added.

Meanwhile, constitutional lawyer Lim Wei Jiet said while it is true that a unity government could provide temporary resolution to the current instability, he is pessimistic that such a coalition would remain due to the political differences.

“Realistically, it is not likely that a unity government could be realised, considering the bitter rivalry of certain parties,” Lim, who is also one of the yet-to-be-registered Malaysian United Democratic Alliance, or MUDA, party founders, added.