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PM reaches out to all parties to prevent pandemic power vacuum, kleptocrats’ return

He outlines seven aspects of a cross-party understanding to ensure a stable government.

Staff Writers
3 minute read
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, flanked by his Cabinet members, speaks at a special address today. Photo: Bernama
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, flanked by his Cabinet members, speaks at a special address today. Photo: Bernama

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today proposed a “cross-party understanding” to obtain support from parties outside the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition to ensure that the government does not collapse in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This will enable the current government to continue managing the pandemic until it is time for elections to be held to restore the mandate to the people.

“My priority is only to ensure that the government can function well during the pandemic to restore the country,” Muhyiddin said in a special address today joined by Cabinet members.

Saying it was critical to ensure that the group of “kleptocrats” does not return to power, Muhyiddin outlined seven proposals under the cross-party understanding, including implementing a series of reforms and ensuring equal allocations to all MPs.

He said with strong support, his government pledged to implement the following:

1. Equal allocation of funds to all MPs across the political divide;
2. Increased spending to RM110 billion for dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, including cash aid worth RM10 billion for 11 million people in the B40 and M40 categories;
3. The enactment of an anti-hopping law and limiting the prime minister’s tenure to two terms;
4. A balanced representation of MPs from the government and opposition in the Special Parliamentary Select Committee;
5. The implementation of Undi 18 without waiting for the automatic registration of voters;
6. A commitment to consult with MPs before the tabling of bills; and
7. Upgrading the status of the opposition leader in Parliament to that of a senior minister.

“If this proposal for bipartisan cooperation is agreed to, I will convene a special session of the Dewan Rakyat to table a motion of confidence in the prime minister in the very near future.

“I assure you that I will take the honourable and constitutional way of resolving the current political crisis,” he said.

Muhyiddin said it was unfortunate that a group of MPs had decided to revoke their support for him at a time when he and his Cabinet colleagues were burdened with managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the easy way out for him would be to resign and leave it to the Agong to appoint a new prime minister to form the government.

“However, until now, not one MP has been able to prove that he has the majority support of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat to enable the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint a new prime minister,” he said, adding that it could trigger a power vacuum at a critical stage of the battle against the pandemic, including the immunisation drive.

“What will happen to our country if the political crisis prolongs and a new government cannot be immediately formed? Which government will ensure the smooth running of the vaccination programme?”

Muhyiddin said the coming two months were critical to achieving herd immunity, and that Malaysia could not afford to let political turmoil disrupt this.

Election by end-July 2022

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin gave his word that the next general election would be held before July next year if the pandemic situation allows.

“I do not intend to continue clinging to power. In this situation, it is only fair to return the mandate to the people to elect a new government when the time is right.

“As such, subject to the pandemic situation, I make a commitment that the 15th general election will be held no later than the end of July next year.”

A vote of confidence in Muhyiddin is scheduled for Sept 7.

This came after several MPs from Umno withdrew their support for him as prime minister, with party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former leader Najib Razak saying they had mustered the backing of about 15 MPs.

Muhyiddin said he was optimistic that the nation would bounce back, and that Malaysians could return to their daily activities which had been interrupted by the pandemic.

“I strongly believe we will heal this nation together and bring back its glory.”

He also said he was aware of his weaknesses and shortcomings.

“What more when as prime minister I have had to shoulder a heavy burden to manage this extraordinary pandemic for more than a year now.

“Certainly, I need the support and backing of my colleagues in the Cabinet, state government leaders, officials, frontliners and the people as a whole to enable me to carry out the responsibility of bringing this country out of this crisis.”

Muhyiddin also took aim at a group of Umno leaders, saying his plan to reach out to the opposition was driven by the need to prevent them from coming to power.

“I, too, like all of you, am duty-bound not to allow the group of kleptocrats to come to power if this political crisis is not resolved immediately,” he said, in a reference to several Umno leaders including Zahid and Najib who are facing multiple charges of corruption.