Despite his party’s rejection of an offer by Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP’s Damansara MP Tony Pua has defended his view, saying people had acted based on emotions in summarily dismissing the cross-party consensus spelt out by the prime minister.
Interviewed by Harith Iskander on his current affairs talk show, Pua said it was difficult for politicians to put politics aside and work together across party barriers to solve the people’s problems.
“The best example of trying to put politics aside and work together is the offer the prime minister has put on the table for us. But emotions take over.
“I completely understand the anger involved, but that’s when I put up the post hoping to put politics aside ‘sikit’, and that this was an opportunity to do some good for the country,” said Pua, who has courted condemnation from some fellow opposition MPs over his stand that they should at least discuss Muhyiddin’s proposal.
On Friday, Muhyiddin listed seven items in a cross-party consensus 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.
Pua and Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming, both from DAP, had publicly said that the matter should be discussed by the opposition.
Pakatan Harapan, the coalition which includes DAP, however rejected the proposal hours later.
Pua said while there had been occasions where DAP had ignored politics in the greater interest of solving the people’s problems during the pandemic, such a move was unpopular.
“It’s generally not the coolest thing to do. It’s more cool to be whacking the government, and it’s easier,” he said.
He cited as an example DAP’s meeting with Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz to hand over suggestions for the government’s Covid-19 recovery plan, adding that some of them had been accepted.
Pua also cited the appointment of DAP’s Ong by Putrajaya’s Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to oversee the vaccination drive in the Klang Valley.
“It’s not so cool to be sitting in a committee that the government runs trying to fix difficult problems because we may get dragged down by it.
“Am I being too honest here?” he asked during the interview last night.
Explaining his stand on the cross-party consensus, Pua said it was an opportunity to implement reforms.
He questioned opposition politicians who rejected the proposal on the argument that the current government cannot be trusted.
“I think we should consider. Consider means go and talk la, bincang dulu.
“Then the next question is whether we can trust him to deliver. That’s why bincang is important.”
Pua said the question of sincerity did not arise as it was akin to a transaction.
“You want to buy a house? I don’t believe you pay up. You pay earnest deposit first, non-refundable so that I know you’re committed to these terms.
“So the sincerity and trust issues no longer matter because the deposit has been paid. And if he does not deliver, you don’t deliver, because from now until the next eight to 10 months, any bill that comes need the support of the opposition. So you don’t deliver, we don’t support, and the government collapses and he wouldn’t want it.
“If we have nothing on him, he can promise anything and we cannot assure he will deliver. But now we have something, we are grabbing hold of something,” Pua said.