In the shadow of too many doubts

pic by BERNAMA

IF TAN Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) thinks general populace to buy his justification that his request for the declaration of emergency from the King was strictly for the purpose of combating the escalating Covid-19 infections, he has another thing coming.

Instead, popular opinions shared by people showed they believe he sought the declaration as a means to protect his position as the prime minister (PM), which had become untenable following public announcements of several MPs withdrawing their support for him.

Given his razor-thin majority in Parliament, the withdrawal of a couple of MPs would have spelled the end of his majority, which even prior to this had always been suspect.

As such, it did not come as a surprise that his move to obtain the proclamation of emergency from the King the second time around is widely viewed as a manoeuvre to save his skin.

But the debate doesn’t end there.

It is argued, why the need for the declaration when there is ample legislation and regulations for the government to impose measures and limitations on the public in pursuing measures to contain the virus?

If the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed in March last year, which lasted for seven weeks, was any yardstick, it was obvious that the Malaysian public are a compliant lot, albeit some complaining and whining among some in the midst.

In fact, when Muhyiddin announced the recent two-week MCO, just a day before the emergency declaration was made, the public — bracing themselves for the long fortnight of restricted movement despite the belly-aching and such — rushed to convenient stores and hypermarkets.

Obviously, it was a sign of acceptance or resignation to the fact that such measures were necessary given the rapid rise in cases.

Even politicians on the other side of the divide did not raise issues with the MCO and confined their criticisms on matters relating to execution and planning of the order, and not a rejection or objection.

If there was an outburst of protests, street demonstrations or organised move ala the storming of Capitol Hill, then seeking the emergency declaration would have been understandable, if not outright justified.

Hence, questions being raised as to the necessity of the emergency. What is it in it that can contain the pandemic better and more effectively than the MCO or other existing measures?

Now, a new dimension is added as to whether Muhyiddin had any right to seek the declaration from the King when his majority is suspect.

His detractors pointed out that Muhyiddin was without the majority anymore and that disqualifies him to seek the emergency declaration as it sets a dangerous and bad precedent. In the future, any PM, whose position hangs on the balance, can simply seek the declaration and stay on in office.

Then, in his speech when announcing the emergency, Muhyiddin used another justification — it was to avoid having to call for an election during these trying times.

Again, this reason is unjustified as only a segment of MPs are demanding it and they too come from his own circle and not from those on the other side of the divide.

It had been repeatedly said the election can be avoided by simply having a vote of confidence or no confidence in Parliament. If he has the majority, the deal is sealed and if he doesn’t, the Parliament should determine who commands it and the King can then ensure the transfer of leadership is done properly in a dignified manner.

After all, it had been done in Perak which is under the rule of Muhyiddin’s coalition.

Furthermore, Muhyiddin should realise that it is possible to have a change of government midterm without going to the polls. His government is itself a product of one.

But what ails the government is not merely its own doing. It has after all been said that the people choose the government and it gets the government it chooses.

Though it is accepted that this government was not elected by the people, sycophants who include some in the media and even academics perpetuate the incongruity.

One academic — who was a non-starter when he tried his hands in politics decades ago — raised issues with politicians whom he described as still indulging in political machinations and manipulations in spite of the rising Covid-19 infections and deaths, flood and economic challenges.

He also pointed out that these politicians had pursued the path despite the King and a number of rulers advising politicians against indulging in political manoeuvres during these trying times.

Taking a swipe at Muhyiddin’s nemeses, the academic was dishonest when he placed the blame of political machinations on the Opposition and spared the government coalition.

In fact, most of Muhyiddin’s woes were self-inflicted. He had been told that it would be disastrous to team up with the kleptocrats, but he chose to ignore wisdom.

If he hadn’t got involved in the Sheraton Move, the kleptocrats would not be given a lifeline and in turn, blackmail him when they knew that their numbers held the government together.

Then, there was the Sabah Move that led to the state election, which is widely touted as the cause for the second and third waves of the pandemic. A member of Muhyiddin’s Cabinet and his political secretary were present during the Sabah Move machinations.

And of course, there was the Perak Move, though not initiated by Muhyiddin’s men, by his partners in the ruling coalition.

Muhyiddin is living his kind of political creed, of self-preservation. More of concern is the academic, alongside others like him, who veils his flaws behind knowledge and intellect, and yet continuously shaping public opinion.

They will one day be found wanting.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.