Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Back door? It’s palace door, PM’s critics told

Academic Chandra Muzaffar cites the example of Barisan Nasional which he says evolved from political realignments as well as party hopping.

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Prominent thinker Chandra Muzaffar has challenged those who describe Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration as a “backdoor government”, saying the sudden political change in Putrajaya last year would not be seen as unusual in many parts of the world.

“He is not a backdoor PM. If we’re going with the door analogy, he was actually appointed through the palace door. It is a fact that he was chosen by the Agong and the other rulers,” Chandra told state broadcaster RTM in an hour-long interview in conjunction with Muhyiddin’s first year in power.

“Backdoor government” is a phrase often used by opposition leaders in questioning Muhyiddin’s legitimacy as prime minister.

Since coming to power, Muhyiddin in several of his speeches had admitted that his administration was not necessarily elected, but pledged to lead the nation in its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Muhyiddin was named as prime minister after a power vacuum caused by the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government, with a series of interviews between the 222 MPs and the Agong to find which political leader had the majority support.

Chandra said it would be wrong to use the term “backdoor government” on Muhyiddin’s administration.

“Let me state from the onset that I do not consider it to be a backdoor government. As a political scientist, this is not a backdoor government because what happened was something that is usual in many other countries,” he said.

He said in the past, political crises and realigments of loyalties had shaped Malaysia’s political landscape.

He said Barisan Nasional (BN), which dominated the government for decades, had evolved from political realignments as well as party hopping.

“Such is the phenomenon of politics,” he added.

Chandra meanwhile said it would also be wrong to blame the collapse of the PH government on Muhyiddin or the Perikatan Nasional coalition.

Instead, he said the root of the collapse could be traced to those who were pressuring then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to state a departure date.

He said one strategy by Mahathir’s critics was to get foreign media to ask him about handing over power to Anwar Ibrahim.

He said it was unacceptable to ask such a question to a person who was largely credited with achieving what was thought to be impossible.

“Before him, we could not bring down BN even after four general elections.

“But every time he addressed a press conference abroad, the same question would be asked by the Western media on when he would make way for Anwar,” said Chandra, who was one of the founders of Parti Keadilan Nasional, the precursor to the current PKR.

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