Wednesday, November 25, 2020

New narrative after PM’s royal endorsement poses budget dilemma for PH

This new narrative involves an attack on two government leaders who have been blamed for PH's loss of majority in February.

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Faced with a dilemma ahead of next month’s budget, parties opposed to Muhyiddin Yassin have trained their guns on two senior government leaders following the prime minister’s royal endorsement for the handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

The dilemma for them is whether the opposition will invite scorn from the public as well as the palace if their move to derail the 2021 budget leads to a pandemic-season election.

“If they do not oppose, it will only strengthen Muhyiddin whose setback in his emergency plan was quickly compensated by the Agong’s blanket endorsement of his administration,” a high-level source in PKR told MalaysiaNow.

The source, a senior federal elected representative from the Klang Valley, said party leaders have been urged to focus their attack on senior minister Mohamed Azmin Ali and Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin – figures whom many Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders blame for the coalition’s loss of majority early this year.

“The narrative is to get Muhyiddin to sack these two leaders as a precondition for the opposition bloc’s support for him,” the MP added.

Muhyiddin is scheduled to table the budget on Nov 6, but there have been fears that a group of MPs in Umno who are facing corruption charges would join hands with their rivals in PH to keep it from being passed.

This would mean the collapse of Muhyiddin’s government and snap polls, which health officials have warned would create election clusters with disastrous consequences in the battle against Covid-19.

A statement from Istana Negara yesterday, however, warned against any such plans.

This followed its earlier damning response to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who failed to make good on his promise to provide details of his claim of possessing the majority needed to take over Putrajaya.

“There is a need to find an escape route to oppose Muhyiddin without being seen as politicking.”

In its latest statement, the palace said there was no pressing need for a state of emergency.

Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah also reminded MPs of the importance of the budget.

“The financial allocations are much needed by the frontliners to ensure the smooth execution of their duties and responsibilities,” the Agong said, following a meeting with fellow Malay rulers to discuss a proposal that he invoke his constitutional powers to declare a state of emergency in order to avoid an election.

The reminder has been seen as a warning from the palace that any move to derail the budget bill would be tantamount to undermining the battle against Covid-19, which this month alone claimed 93 lives.

“That royal passage has silenced any thought of changing the government,” the same MP told MalaysiaNow.

“So there is a need to find an escape route to oppose Muhyiddin without being seen as politicking.”

One pro-Anwar leader who has set the “narrative” going is Wong Chen, who called on Muhyiddin to sack Azmin and Hamzah while hinting at sympathy for the prime minister.

“We know that the prime minister has not been in the best of health for some time, and there is persistent talk that he is being influenced by these two senior ministers.

“So either the prime minister resigns or he sacks the said two senior ministers for this audacious attempt to subvert democracy in Malaysia,” the Subang MP said.

Wong Chen’s call echoes that of Umno Supreme Council member Puad Zarkashi, who claimed that Muhyiddin had blamed Azmin and Hamzah for the Agong’s decision not to declare an emergency.

But a senior Bersatu leader who attended last night’s meeting at Muhyiddin’s residence said no such accusations had been made.

“Among the issues discussed was Muhyiddin telling ministers he had done everything in his power to stop election clusters, and that he was worried next month’s budget would be sabotaged,” he said.

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