A parliament vote against Muhyiddin just won’t do
by Manjit Bhatia
COMMENT | P Gunasegaram makes a number of good points in his latest opinion piece. But there’s one by him with which I fundamentally disagree.
It’s on the idea that Parliament, which sits (laughable) on Monday, should be allowed to endorse Muhyiddin Yassin’s tenure as prime minister as indeed it should his Perikatan Nasional (PN) regime.
Given the manner in which the PN regime snatched power at the end of February from a perfectly legitimate Harapan regime – never mind all of its ills and faults – the Muhyiddin regime has resoundingly, undeniably zero legitimacy.
On this, I am at one with Gunasegaram.
But you can't metamorphose an illegitimate regime into a legitimate one by a sheer show of hands in Parliament.
It is too far gone for that.
And not this Parliament at any rate, since it has, like Muhyiddin, no credibility.
No doubt Muhyiddin will claim his regime came to power legally. He did insofar as he did not violate the constitution for his naked grab for power.
But his ethics, and indeed the totality of the regime’s ethics – of its officers and its protectors – remain highly questionable, deeply disturbing and immoral and, thus, should be condemned by the people.
I say by the people because the hopelessly hobbled opposition after shooting itself in the foot now looks entirely in disarray despite Lim Kit Siang's routine moaning from the sidelines and Liew Chin Tong’s regular grandfatherly stories as if he’s trying to salve his (self-inflicted) hurting soul.
Nobody is in any doubt that Malaysia’s Parliament is highly unstable. But it’s also extremely dodgy. It’s a pond of “political frogs" engaged in the incestuous breeding programme of more political frogs.
Muhyiddin cuts a desperately tragic political figure and for that very reason, he has been corrupting members of parliament on his side of the so-called august House, gifting them lucrative side incomes in state agencies and state companies.
If that’s not corruption, I do not know what is given the long history of politicians being insanely corrupt since the onset of a supposedly Malay dilemma.
And now that Muhyiddin has lined these MPs’ pockets, for whom will they vote? Are they suddenly expected to bite the hand that feeds them? Or will moral conscience all of a sudden seize them to do the right thing?
These MPs are driven not by an inherent desire to serve the people and the country. They are driven by self-interest. The bacteria that live in them is called "avarice". Greed by another name.
That is the unaltered temple of the political class since year dot. Not just in Malaysia but everywhere. Any fool will tell you this.
A nation run by crooks for crooks
But in Malaysia, it has taken on a bright new meaning in the wake of the 1MDB scandal that has made the country look every bit like a Third World pariah state run by crooks for crooks. Its name is more than mud; it’s in the toilet.
Not that Mahathir did anything to turn that image around. He proved yet again he is no saviour. Neither is Muhyiddin.
So the best – and only way – to solve the problem of legitimacy/illegitimacy is for Muhyiddin to stop hiding under the cover of the “king's selection” and Covid-19, dissolve Parliament and call an election.
Win or lose, it will be the right and democratic way to decide this problem.
But a warning: if Muhyiddin is allowed to continue as PM, the country will slide even more rapidly into the era of Najib Abdul Razak kleptocracy. It's already headed in that direction.
If Harapan – what’s left of that sorry carcass – allows Mahathir to lead it into elections and/or to be reinstalled prime minister for the third time, the biggest loser will be the coalition but above all Malaysia.
There is no earthly reason to trust Mahathir (or Mukhriz) to run the country if you consider all their innings as “rulers”. In fact, Mahathir was already hinting of pulling his Bersatu out of Harapan. Muhyiddin beat him to it. Outplayed Mahathir. Pulled the rug from right under his big nose. It was, as far as I am concerned, a deserved slap to Mahathir's face.
But the loser was still Malaysia.
Mahathir and Muhyiddin sold out Malaysians before. So did Harapan and PN is doing the same now.
Since Anwar Ibrahim is hopelessly weak, and since he does not enjoy popular Malay support, he will defer – again, stupidly – to letting Mahathir lead the fundamentally broken and factional infighting-ridden Harapan.
Worse, Harapan isn’t ready for a snap poll. It’ll be hammered by the Malay vote.
Whatever happens – whichever regime comes to power – it won't last. Because it’ll have almost no legitimacy. Too much water under the bridge.
If it does last, it’ll be on the back of worse-type authoritarianism yet.
MANJIT BHATIA reads economics and international politics at New Hampshire in the US