Humble pie and friendly fires

PH says it has the majority, but their last-minute bloc voting for Budget 2021 last week baffled supporters

IT SEEMS that the Opposition, or specifically Pakatan Harapan (PH), has a lot of firefighting to do following their last-minute decision on the bloc voting for Budget 2021 last week.

The disappointment, anger and confusion among its supporters are real, while more fence sitters are becoming vocal on the coalition’s lack of direction or solid explanation over what transpired last Thursday. Who could blame them?

Since February to September this year, the people were led to believe that the coalition would substantiate that it had the numbers to prove that Perikatan Nasional (PN) had no legitimacy to run the administration.

Who could have forgotten the “strong, formidable and convincing” claim?

PH said it had the majority, excluding the support of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air and Parti Warisan Sabah.

With such a strong claim, it is indeed baffling for the coalition, or rather Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, to allow the budget to be passed.

The crux of the matter remains: Does PH now recognise the PN government as legitimate?

Secondly, from what transpired on Monday and yesterday, it seemed that PH had, at best, 95 votes in the Dewan Rakyat, which surprisingly, included votes from Pejuang representatives.

In frustration, and understandably so, some have trained their guns on Warisan MPs for purposely boycotting the session.

However, it needs to be reminded again that even if all MPs from the party were in attendance, PH only had 103 votes.

The PN administration has consistently maintained its votes above 105, so far.

The talks of PH tactical move had fallen flat, and observers are now waiting eagerly on how it will emerge stronger from this confusing episode.

In the meantime, maybe it does not hurt for PH to eat the humble pie, acknowledge where it went wrong, and reassess its political manoeuvre.

Alienating others for not getting the “political strategy” will push others away — just in case they have not noticed.

At the same time, it does not mean that PN is out of the water. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who pledged to hold a general election after the pandemic is over, saw himself getting demands from Umno for the deputy prime minister post.

Although Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did try to put a stop to it, the calls from supporters and other party leaders show that his effort has been generally ignored.

Separately, in another friendly fire, Umno youth leader Shahril Sufian Hamdan stated that the Malay-based party will be the dominant party, in contrast to what his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia colleague Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Kamal’s claim that there is no dominant party in the ruling pact.

Despite announcement that PN parties will compromise and concede to one another’s demand, political observers remain sceptical that they could give way to each other to contest in the 15th General Election.

PN may remain intact, but it is in no way solid at the moment.

However, if there is anything that these past few months have taught us is that Muhyiddin is not one to be underestimated.

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