New govt must seek confidence and supply agreements with Opposition for stability

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by TMR FILE

THE new government will need to consider a confidence and supply agreements (CSAs) with the Opposition bloc to ensure a more sustainable administration following the resignation of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister (PM).

Muhyiddin, the shortest serving PM in the country’s history, officially submitted his resignation letter to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah after governing the Perikatan Nasional administration for 17 months with a slim majority since the alliance came into power.

He had to vacate the post after a number of Umno lawmakers withdrew support for him.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) said it is vital for Muhyiddin’s successor to pursue political stability by offering a CSAs on multi-partisan governance and institutional reforms.

The coalition further said to fulfil the demand of Article 43(2) (a) of the Federal Constitution and to command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat, the PM-designate may form a coalition government or a minority government with unambiguous support from enough Opposition MPs on CSAs.

This, Bersih 2.0 said, would ensure broad-based support for government policies in the current challenging crisis.

“The endless political machination due to winner-takes-all politics in a de facto hung Parliament for the past one and a half years must now end to enable a more effective governance of health and economy,” Bersih 2.0 said in a statement yesterday, referring to the economic downturn in the Covid-19 embattlement.

The statement was also endorsed by Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia, Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia, and the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

Bank Negara Malaysia last week revised its full-year gross domestic product growth forecast for Malaysia to between 3% and 4%, from the previous forecast of between 6% and 7.5% for 2021 due to movement restrictions enforcement caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

On top of this, observers are of the view that a government’s stability is among the key factors that would determine economic recovery.

Last week, Muhyiddin called for a bi-partisan effort by having the Opposition to work with the government to pursue the National Recovery Plan, which includes special perks and facilities offered to Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

However, the Opposition bloc unanimously rejected the offer, calling Muhyiddin’s move a “show” after knowing that he no longer commanded the majority support to be PM.

Following this, Bersih 2.0 stated that Muhyiddin’s proposed bipartisan government, which included institutional reforms, must be seen objectively.

“In formulating a cross-party agreement committing as many parties and MPs as possible, the seven-point reform package made by Muhyiddin on Aug 13 can serve as a good reference but be expanded to cover more aspects of institutional reforms,” Bersih 2.0 reiterated in the statement.

The body proposed ten points to be considered in a “Cross-party Political Stability Pact” to be covered by the various CSAs between the new government and the opposition parties.

Among the proposals was a tripartite Federal-State Council on Health and Economy body.

This, Bersih 2.0 said, consists of equal numbers of members from the federal government, opposition and the 13 state governments.

Bersih 2.0 suggested that the body be assisted by state officials and experts to coordinate key decisions on the pandemic and economy.

The association also called the new PM to table a motion of confidence in the Parliament immediately to prove his majority.

Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service Inc noted that political uncertainty would not drag the country’s rating and credit profile.

Moody’s VP and senior analyst Christian Fang said although a period of political uncertainty may occur in Malaysia given Muhyiddin’s resignation, he expected that the country’s credible and effective institutions would limit the impact on its macroeconomic policies and credit profile as demonstrated over past episodes of abrupt political change.

He added that the pandemic remains the key risk in Malaysia, as the elevated number of new infections and ongoing restrictions — although less stringent compared to the second quarter of 2020 — will continue to weigh on the economic recovery this year.

“As such, if fiscal deficits remain wide for some time because of further economic stimulus or weak revenue, resulting in a persistent rise in the government debt burden that fiscal authorities are unable to reverse, this has the potential to materially weaken Malaysia’s credit profile,” he said.