King says the establishment of a Mageran-like body and reconvening of Parliament come with 1 proviso: The govt must propose it
by RAHIMI YUNUS / pic credit: Dr Mahathir’s office
FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) has proposed to the King for the setting up of a governing body similar to the National Operations Council during the Emergency in 1969 to resolve the crises faced by the country today.
Dr Mahathir said such an Emergency administrative body, called Mageran 52 years ago, would govern and steer the country better through the Covid-19 pandemic-induced calamity with greater participation from external parties to the government — not only for ideas, but execution.
He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who met with him yesterday in a series of meetings with political leaders, “did not reject” the idea of a special council establishment.
The Langkawi MP also said Sultan Abdullah is not against Parliament sitting during the current Emergency period.
But according to Dr Mahathir, the King had said that the establishment of a Mageran-like body and reconvening of Parliament come with one proviso: The government must be the one to propose it.
For that reason, the 95-year-old statesman believes that the proposals may not come through.
“I am afraid the situation of Covid, economy and social problems would get worse because the government appears to have no idea how to handle these issues. We have a lot of ideas, but without Mageran we cannot bring or implement our ideas.
“It has been shown that the government may plagiarise ideas, but do not know how to implement them. They will not be able to achieve the objectives we determine for ourselves. That is a problem we face, and it will have serious repercussions,” Dr Mahathir said in a briefing yesterday.
The Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman said he did not name anyone to lead the prospective Emergency governing body, but has offered his service — if the government wants.
“I doubt they would propose to have Mageran, certainly not with me around,” he added.
As it was, PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s principal private secretary, Datuk Dr Marzuki Mohamad, said Mageran is not suitable for the current health crisis, which is not a security crisis, and the “civilian government now is still functioning”.
Dr Mahathir also said the idea of a “unity government”, which could give the same desired effects as Mageran, was not discussed during his meeting with the King.
The former PM first tabled the unity government bid during the political stalemate in 2018, which saw the birth of Muhyiddin-led Perikatan Nasional administration.
He also said the King asked him whether a general election should be held next year, in which Dr Mahathir did not recommend this in order to avoid a spike in Covid-19 cases like what happened in the Sabah state election last year.
Mageran was formed in 1969 following the May 13 racial riot to resolve a political impasse, which saw Malaysia’s second PM Tun Abdul Razak Hussein leading the body and roping opposing parties in to form the administration.
The New Economic Model was a result of the political partnership.
Yesterday, Dr Mahathir said he pointed out to Sultan Abdullah that the country is facing four crises concurrently: Health, economic and finance, politics and social.
On health, he raised concerns that Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 cases per capita is higher compared to countries like the US and the UK.
On the economy, he said the government has spent a lot on financial aids, but the positive effects have fallen short.
“The people do not get much, no food, no job. The relief provided is insufficient, especially to those unfortunate who have lost their job or have businesses impacted,” he said.
On the political front, Dr Mahathir said many people do not recognise the government of the day and contended that they have failed.
From a social standpoint, he expressed concerned about the rise in suicides and sexual harassment, and the loss of education.
“Education has ‘stopped’ and is lost for two years,” he said.
Besides Dr Mahathir, Sultan Abdullah also met with Pas deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal yesterday.
The meetings with party leaders come ahead of a Special Meeting of the Malay Rulers scheduled for Wednesday next week.
The leaders of Gabungan Parti Sarawak component parties are scheduled to have an audience with the King via video on Monday, according to a statement by Sarawak Chief Minister’s office on Wednesday.