Commentary: Intense politicking persists beneath truce between Malaysia’s ruling coalition and opposition

SINGAPORE: The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government and opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) has been hailed as an agreement ushering in a new era of bipartisan cooperation and ground-breaking reforms. But its success remains unclear. There’s little doubt it only passed because it conveniently serves the immediate political interests of both sides. Crucially, it paves the way for Ismail Sabri to remain in power until Jul 31, 2022. But at least it grants Malaysia reprieve from the months of political uncertainty and acrimony, which distracted the country from much needed national efforts to combat COVID-19.   Coronavirus cases are surging in the country, with over 17,500 infections on Friday (Sep 17) and a seven-day moving average of 107 deaths. FULFILLING OPPOSITION INTERESTS There is a higher chance critical bills like the forthcoming government budget will pass and the ruling coalition can concentrate on governing, seeing that PH has agreed to support or at least abstain from these. Failure to pass would have been construed as a vote of no confidence in Ismail. But this still requires PH to be consulted beforehand so they are satisfied with proposed laws. The opposition supported the MOU because it contains some of their demands. More than a year ago, the Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) organising secretary Anthony Loke had proposed a confidence-and supply agreement to then embattled prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin. He had offered the opposition’s support in exchange for reforms including the strengthening of the parliamentary system, bipartisan consultation on matters related to budget and other laws, and equal funding for opposition and government members of parliament, but Muhyiddin did not take up the proposal.

Commentary: Intense politicking persists beneath truce between Malaysia’s ruling coalition and opposition

SINGAPORE: The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government and opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) has been hailed as an agreement ushering in a new era of bipartisan cooperation and ground-breaking reforms. But its success remains unclear.

There’s little doubt it only passed because it conveniently serves the immediate political interests of both sides. Crucially, it paves the way for Ismail Sabri to remain in power until Jul 31, 2022.

But at least it grants Malaysia reprieve from the months of political uncertainty and acrimony, which distracted the country from much needed national efforts to combat COVID-19.  

Coronavirus cases are surging in the country, with over 17,500 infections on Friday (Sep 17) and a seven-day moving average of 107 deaths.

FULFILLING OPPOSITION INTERESTS

There is a higher chance critical bills like the forthcoming government budget will pass and the ruling coalition can concentrate on governing, seeing that PH has agreed to support or at least abstain from these.

Failure to pass would have been construed as a vote of no confidence in Ismail. But this still requires PH to be consulted beforehand so they are satisfied with proposed laws.

The opposition supported the MOU because it contains some of their demands. More than a year ago, the Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) organising secretary Anthony Loke had proposed a confidence-and supply agreement to then embattled prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

He had offered the opposition’s support in exchange for reforms including the strengthening of the parliamentary system, bipartisan consultation on matters related to budget and other laws, and equal funding for opposition and government members of parliament, but Muhyiddin did not take up the proposal.