Two of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) top leaders have warned the coalition against placing its trust in MPs from the ruling bloc to gain power, in what appears to be a veiled jibe at PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s recent attempts to get Umno MPs to his side.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu said the coalition’s narrow defeat in Tuesday’s vote on the 2021 budget in the Dewan Rakyat should be seen as an opportunity to build its strength with opposition parties outside of PH.
“The budget vote… has taught us not to waste our energy seeking the mirage of more than 111 MPs based only on PH’s core of 92 MPs. Should the 108 MPs be the base instead, how much stronger will PH Plus be,” they said in a joint statement.
They said while the vote showed that opposition MPs had not budged since the collapse of the PH government this year, it also disproved claims that ruling MPs would defect to back Anwar as prime minister.
“Not a single government backbencher voted with PH, including those who allegedly support Anwar. Clearly these government backbenchers are adept at playing political games to gain maximum leverage from the PN government,” they added.
On Tuesday, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government scored a narrow victory with 111 votes against 108 for the final reading of the 2021 budget.
The vote was keenly followed as it would have shown whether Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin still has the confidence of the majority of MPs to remain in power.
It came on the back of several statements by Anwar and his supporters that he had the majority to form the government.
In October, MalaysiaNow revealed that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak had written to the palace expressing support for the opposition leader.
Najib had also openly called on Barisan Nasional MPs to consider backing Anwar.
In their statement, Lim and Mohamad, better known as Mat Sabu, called for PH to instead work towards “uniting our friends among the opposition MPs who stood by us”, believed to be a reference to MPs from blocs led by leaders who are seen as anti-Anwar, namely Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Warisan president Shafie Apdal.
MPs from the Sabah party had stayed out of a series of votes during the budget debate, leaving PH MPs far behind in terms of the numbers needed to scuttle several ministerial allocations.
“PH should not be wasting time on opportunistic government backbenchers exploiting PH for their own private benefit to get more and more lucrative deals from the PN government,” Lim and Mat Sabu added.
“Instead, that time and resources should be spent on our friends and allies that can seek a common cause for the rakyat based on principles of sound democratic values, good governance, anti-corruption, economic progress and social justice.”