March 11, 2020
A commentary by Zaidi Azmi
DO you remember when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was accused of lying to the King when the latter made him Malaysia’s eighth prime minister?
Do you remember when Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, whose party Pribumi Bersatu caused the Pakatan Harapan government to collapse when it quit the coalition, claimed that it was he who had the backing to form a government?
Do you remember that ridiculous guessing game that Malaysians had to put up with because someone’s gambit during the week-long political drama went woefully awry and he simply could not stomach it?
But at the end of the day, it turned out that the King was right all along. He didn’t make an ill-advised decision. It was indeed Muhyiddin who had the magic number to form a government and be the PM.
Why? Because four of the 114 MPs who allegedly pledged their support to Mahathir are now part of Muhyiddin’s Cabinet. And 114 – 4 = 110. One needs at least 112 to form the government.
Oh, almost forgot. Even way before Monday’s unveiling of Muhyiddin’s Cabinet, two other MPs denied supporting Mahathir. That makes it worse — 108.
So will Muhyiddin survive a vote of no-confidence in parliament? The numbers seem to suggest so.
Even Mahathir conceded defeat today, saying that Muhyiddin’s administration can last until the next general election as the prospect of unseating him in parliament looked dim.
“Now that he is the government, he can afford to offer inducement to many. I found that some of my supporters have been made ministers, so they switched sides. I cannot offer them anything,” lamented Mahathir in an interview with Sinar Harian.
While the legality of the new government is no longer an issue, the narrative of it being an illegitimate backdoor government has been seemingly set in stone by its critics such as Mahathir’s eldest daughter, Datin Paduka Marina.
And in one of her recent tweets, Marina belittled the capability of newly-minted Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd. Harun
But not surprisingly Marina did not find Rina a problem during the latter’s time as minister in her father’s Cabinet.
Where Marina was specific in her needling, former federal territories minister Khalid Samad of Amanah was the opposite.
In a broad-brush remark Khalid claimed that the new Cabinet line-up was poorly planned and directionless as it does not have any manifesto.
Seriously? They were sworn in less than 24 hours ago.
Does Khalid not remember how it was those from Pakatan who downplayed the importance of fulfilling promises in a manifesto?
Dear Khalid, your frustration and anger at losing your high-paying ministerial job is understandable but wouldn’t it be more sensible for you to hammer the new government only after it has shown itself to be unworthy?
But while their rants do not hold water for now, at least Marina and Khalid have yet to make any racially-charged remarks about the new government, unlike DAP’s Hannah Yeoh.
When the Cabinet was announced, Yeoh wished National Unity Minister Datuk Seri Halimah Saddique all the best working at a ministry led by a coalition of race and religious parties.
This is rich, coming from someone whose coalition appointed P. Waythamoorthy — the guy who claimed that Indians in Malaysia were forced to convert to Islam in exchange for civil service employment — as a unity minister.
Waythamoorthy has yet to apologise for his bigoted remark.