I write to express my utter disappointment with Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) failure to stand up and be counted, literally. Last Thursday, when Budget 2021 was put to a vote at the policy stage in the Dewan Rakyat, the opposition bloc stood down.
This was despite weeks of ramping up the pressure on defeating the budget and months of anticipation of toppling the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government during this crucial vote. And when the critical moment appeared, what did PH leaders do? They backed off!
Opposition head Anwar Ibrahim has tried to justify PH’s decision by saying that the bloc did not want to railroad portions of the budget which were crucial, especially to frontliners battling Covid-19. And neither did PH want to go against the wishes of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
But that was not the picture painted to PH’s supporters from the day Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz tabled the budget on Nov 6. From the get-go, PH’s campaign focused on tearing the budget to pieces, whether in harping on Jasa, EPF withdrawals or the alleged insufficient health funds to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
All the remedial action taken by the government to tweak the budget was not sufficient. And the opposition supporters lapped up PH’s drivel thinking that eight months of backdoor PN rule was enough and that the bloc should reclaim its rightful place in Putrajaya.
But sheepishly, PH not just backtracked but also justified its decision with incoherent reasons. For example, if it did not want to go against the Agong by voting against the budget, would it not be doing so if it rejects the bill at the committee stage?
We PH supporters would not have blamed Anwar, Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu had the attempt failed. Given the composition of the lower house, the vote could have swung either way. Besides, PN had the advantage of being in government.
The road to Putrajaya is a long and winding one. It took 10 years from 2008 when Barisan Nasional first lost its traditional two-thirds majority in the poll. Even defeated last Thursday, we can always come back and fight again.
But voters are upset that PH did not even try as a matter of principle, unlike Pejuang leaders like Dr Mahathir Mohamad who stood their ground. PH has only lent legitimacy to Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration. Anwar’s claim of a “strong, convincing” majority is just that – an unproven claim.
If we can’t even trust PH to do things right when they are out of government, I don’t see how we can thrust them back into Putrajaya. Anwar at the helm, with his endless political theatrics, has only served to chip away whatever credibility is left of PH.
At this rate, PH under Anwar will be crossing the Rubicon soon, if it has not already. Then, all dreams of PH wrestling back Putrajaya will be nothing more than pipe dreams.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.