Damansara MP Tony Pua has urged fellow MPs in the opposition to consider the offer put forth by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in exchange for their support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, saying they could achieve some of what they have been fighting for while also preventing Umno leaders from returning to power.
“Let us now count the potential benefits to the rakyat – we end the political turmoil and impasse; we block the return of the kleptocrats; we prevent a general election in the middle of the pandemic; we get the PN govt to institute priceless reforms; we get an equal say in passing all bills; and finally, we’ll get to kick PN out in a GE to be held about 10 months away,” Pua said in a statement which he added would “make many unhappy”.
The term “kleptocrats” refers to a group of Umno leaders who are facing multiple corruption charges. They include Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak, both of whom are leading the current efforts to oust Muhyiddin.
Pua said while he would welcome Muhyiddin’s ouster, the reality was that the alternative offered by Pakatan Harapan (PH) – Anwar Ibrahim – did not have the majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.
Pua warned of three possible outcomes: political turmoil, freedom for “kleptocrats” due to Umno’s return to power, and a general election.
He said failing to secure a majority for Anwar, the opposition should give “full consideration” to Muhyiddin’s offer.
“He has asked to meet all opposition parties to discuss the above. And we must at the very least agree to attend the meeting. After all, there’s everything to gain for the rakyat, and nothing to lose,” he added.
Pua’s view echoes that of fellow DAP MP Ong Kian Ming, who said the proposal by Muhyiddin should be discussed by political parties.
Even before Muhyiddin’s speech today, Ong, the Bangi MP, had urged for a political moratorium as well as a proposal that could allow all parties to work together.
“If such a proposal is significant enough, I am sure that the voters in my constituency would want me to ask the leaders in my political party and my political coalition to at least consider these proposals,” Ong said.
This contrasts the stand taken by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who alongside Anwar and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, dismissed Muhyiddin’s offer as a bribe.
Muhyiddin in a speech this evening had listed seven items in his proposal for a cross-party agreement to avoid a collapse of the government which he said risked a power vacuum that could be filled by “kleptocrats” while disrupting efforts to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Among others, he pledged to channel equal allocations of funds to all MPs across the political divide, enact an anti-hopping law, limit the prime minister’s tenure in office, and ensure a balanced representation of MPs from the government and opposition in the Special Parliamentary Select Committee.
Muhyiddin also promised to implement Undi18 to allow those who reach 18 years of age to vote at the next election.
Pua said it was not easy to dismiss the offer.
“Let’s be frank. Muhyiddin didn’t offer peanuts that even monkeys will reject. He offered some (surprisingly) real tangible bipartisan reforms which the country badly needs,” he added.
He said he believed the offer was genuine because the government needed the opposition’s support.
“Some of my comrades say that the PN government is weak and desperate, that’s why they are now making these offers. Well, if they are strong, why should they?
“And if they are indeed weak and desperate, isn’t that the best time to be negotiating with them?” said Pua.