For whom the bell tolls


FOR 16 months, the nation has been helmed by a prime minister (PM) whose legitimacy is always in question, and he led the nation with an administration widely dubbed as a backdoor government.

Yesterday, they were exposed of having wilfully and deliberately lying in Parliament with regards to the revocation of the Emergency Ordinances (EOs).

What transpired was that on Monday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, who is de facto law minister, unexpectedly announced in Parliament that the EOs had been revoked since July 21.

It immediately sparked an outcry among Opposition MPs who questioned how the revocation could be done without any notice from the King nor was there any government gazette to announce it.

The principle of the matter is simple — during an Emergency, the power to promulgate EOs lies in the hands of the King — and by that it means the hand that approves is also the one that revokes.

As Opposition MPs pressed the government for clarification on whether the revocation was with royal consent, Takiyuddin and Parliament Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun were observed working overtime deflecting and evading the questions.

Then came the bombshell yesterday. The King expressed his unhappiness over the announcement made by Takiyuddin and pointed out he had not consented to the revocation.

In effect, the royal rebuke meant that Takiyuddin, presumably with the consent of PM Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin, had allowed for a lie to be tabled in Parliament.

There were attempts to pin the blame on Takiyuddin. However, it is difficult for Mahiaddin and the rest of the Cabinet to distance themselves as they were present when Takiyuddin made the announcement.

In fact, Mahiaddin was sitting just in front of Takiyuddin when the latter made the announcement of the revocation in Parliament.

Neither was there any attempt by Mahiaddin or any of the Cabinet members to clarify, deny or reprimand Takiyuddin for making the announcement.

And in the spirit of collective responsibility, they are all responsible and complicit. They have lost all credibility and legitimacy to continue to lead the nation.

Much as the latest royal rebuke had got those opposed to them into a frenzy, Mahiaddin and his Cabinet had actually been under a lot of pressure to resign over their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The recurring five-figure positive cases in the past week was widely accepted as proof of the government’s failure to deal with the pandemic.

The rising number of deaths from the pandemic, the suffocating economic condition due to the unintelligent and flip-flopping lockdowns and movement controls, the double standards or selective application of the rules and punishments which seem to differentiate between the rich and the poor only added to the disgust and unhappiness towards the government.

While the anger towards the administration continues to simmer, the ruling coalition is in tatters with Umno, the main pillar that had kept the government standing, riddled the nation on their allegiance.

On one hand, some of their leaders repeatedly spewed vitriol toward Mahiaddin and declared the withdrawal of their support, while others remained as part of the administration.

The schizophrenic behaviour led pundits to believe there was more to it than mere contradictions.

As yesterday unravelled Mahiaddin’s leadership, Umno’s reaction was quite revealing. They distanced themselves from the disgrace, but focused their target on Mahiaddin.

The theory is that since their man Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is already the deputy PM and if Mahiaddin was forced to step down and the Parliament in session is not allowing a vote of no confidence, Ismail Sabri could very well be the successor.

Even if the King consents to accepting representations from party leaders, the possibility of any of them commanding a simple, let alone convincing or formidable majority is highly unlikely, something that Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had ironically proved time and again.

Furthermore, given the pandemic situation the nation is going through now, a snap election would be disastrous if not literally issuing a death sentence on the nation.

So, Umno being hopeful that Ismail Sabri may just squeeze through for them is not too far-fetched a theory. If that were to be realised, Umno would be back in power via a second backdoor manoeuvring, no less dramatic than that mounted by Mahiaddin via the Sheraton Move.

There is no loyalty to be expected. After all, the Sheraton Move was for political expediency — for Mahiaddin it is about becoming the PM, while for those supporting him were looking at becoming ministers and securing cushy positions in government-linked companies and such.

For the Umno kleptocrats, it was about looking for possibilities of getting out from the court cases and eventual incarceration.

There is no love lost between them. After all, Mahiaddin was quite instrumental in bringing their downfall.

Even within Mahiaddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, their loyalty is for as long as he is the PM and the minute he becomes a liability, they will drop him like a sack of potatoes.

They are quite used to such disloyalty — Mahiaddin and the rest of his Bersatu ilk were prepared to drop their then chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he stood in their way to realise their reardoor ambitions, why would it be any different when they deal with Mahiaddin.

They may even feel justified to do so since Mahiaddin was adept to similar acts and if they had to change their allegiance to Ismail Sabri and it benefits them, they are not about to think twice and be bothered over inconveniencing principles such as loyalty.

However, the only snag to the theory is that Ismail Sabri and other Umno ministers in the Mahiaddin Cabinet cannot absolve themselves from the shenanigans of Takiyuddin or Mahiaddin themselves.

They are part of the breaking of all the laws and Parliamentary protocols which the King had revealed in his rebuke yesterday.

That disqualifies them another rear entry and the shortcut of passing the baton within.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.


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