Sunday, July 25, 2021

‘Covid-19, high-profile court cases bigger considerations for PM despite Malay rulers’ stand’

Social critic Chandra Muzaffar says those calling for the Dewan Rakyat to reconvene should be truly committed to the democratic process and sincere in wanting national issues debated and discussed.

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Prominent social critic Chandra Muzaffar does not see the call by the Malay rulers to reconvene Parliament as a rebuke of the Perikatan Nasional government, saying the prime minister had already given a specific timeline when announcing the National Recovery Plan a day earlier.

Chandra also said while the two statements issued separately by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers’ Conference appeared not to carry any explicit endorsement of the government’s efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, there were stronger factors that would influence Muhyiddin Yassin in deciding to reopen Parliament.

“I think his main concern would be the vaccination programme. If it meets its target, by 40% or 50% immunised by October, then I think he would want to proceed. On the other hand, the situation is not looking good. He may have reasons to postpone some of the goals,” Chandra told current affairs programme Consider This on Astro Awani last night.

Following a special meeting of the Conference of Rulers yesterday, both the Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, and his fellow Malay rulers issued separate statements recommending that Parliament reconvene and the state of emergency end as scheduled on Aug 1.

The meeting followed Sultan Abdullah’s audiences with more than a dozen political leaders from both sides of the divide.

A day earlier, Muhyiddin laid out Putrajaya’s post-Covid-19 recovery plan which among others targets Parliament’s reopening by September or October subject to the pandemic situation as well as the outcome of the massive vaccination programme.

Chandra Muzaffar.

Chandra said it was not unusual for Muhyiddin as the prime minister to have political considerations, pointing out a fractured Umno.

“Any prime minister would be concerned,” he said, adding that there were at least three factions in Umno who “don’t see eye to eye on every issue”.

Chandra said there were also high-profile court cases of personalities in Umno, the outcomes of which would be known by October.

“This must weigh heavily on the PM’s mind. This may be why he suggested October as the date to reconvene Parliament,” he added.

Former prime minister Najib Razak and current Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, both of whom are facing jail-time and political bans over scores of corruption charges, have been at the forefront of attacks against Muhyiddin in recent months.

Their opposition grew louder in the aftermath of Najib’s conviction on seven charges related to the 1MDB scandal, where he and Zahid in October last year wrote to the palace expressing support for PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to topple Muhyiddin.

Chandra said those facing charges would have their own motive in pressuring the government to reconvene Parliament.

“This is one of the reasons why a couple of people are pushing for the reconvening of the Parliament,” he said.

Chandra said those calling for the Dewan Rakyat to reconvene should be truly committed to the democratic process and sincere in wanting national issues debated and discussed.

“Now if they want to use the Parliament for other purposes, because they have other motives, maybe motives related to court cases, their own future and so on, it would be sad.

“This is something that’s very real in Malaysian politics. There are all these nefarious agendas,” he said.

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