On the change of government

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Muhyiddin Yassin's coalition lacks the confidence - Photograph: Bernama/Malay Mail

We, the members of G25, join other organisations in civil society to express our deep disappointment and frustration at the way the recent political process has been working in Malaysia to bring about a change of government.

In expressing our disappointment, we wish to emphasise that we are not against a change of any government. It is an accepted practice in a parliamentary system of democracy that when there is a vote of no confidence tabled in Parliament by the opposition against the prime minister and, if the vote stands, the government automatically falls.

The prime minister will then have the choice of:

(i) either tendering his resignation

(ii) or requesting the head of state to dissolve Parliament, such request if acceded to, would result in a general election.

This, unfortunately did not happen here in Malaysia. Instead, the seventh prime minister, who was elected by the people, suddenly resigned on his own initiative, taking down with him the whole cabinet and causing so much uncertainty and anxiety in the country. This is because he did not name his successor.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has appointed Muhyiddin Yassin as the new Prime Minister.

We hope that the usual parliamentary practice will be allowed to operate to determine the legitimacy of the new prime minister’s appointment by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In the light of what had transpired politically, a motion for a vote of no confidence would be the most appropriate move in the forthcoming sitting of Parliament as it is a constitutional right of the Opposition, following the correct constitutional and democratic practice.

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If the motion were to succeed, then, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall either appoint a new prime minister or dissolve Parliament, as the case may be, in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

On the other hand, if the motion were to be defeated and Parliament confirms the appointment of Muhyiddin, then the appointment must be respected by the citizens.

The people feel betrayed by our politicians. It is the people who voted the Pakatan Harapan government into power during the previous general election on the strength of the reform manifesto.

Malaysians had welcomed its reform proposals and voted for the PH government with a mandate to transform Malaysia’s system of governance.

Malaysian citizens from all over the world and from all walks of life voted for a clean and trustworthy administration with strong institutions to protect the rights of all Malaysians, against kleptocracy, the abuse of power, greed and corruption.

We in G25 are dismayed that instead of concentrating on implementing the reforms, the politicians were obsessed with infighting to seize power, which became so vicious that it led to the collapse of the government.

We condemn these power-hungry politicians as they have clearly shown they only care about their own self-interest, without any sense of duty to fulfil the promises of reforms they made when they were campaigning for votes from the people.

In relation to the appointment of the prime minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution prescribes that he shall appoint as prime minister, a member of the House of Representatives who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House.

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Under the Federal Constitution, the Agong alone – and independently – must determine the requirement of “likely to command the confidence of the majority” and no one else – not even the Conference of Rulers.

Of course, needless to say, His Majesty carries out the task, which may be difficult at times, with the guidance of the attorney general on the application of the law and the Federal Constitution.

We in G25 also hope that the print and electronic media will continue to be open and easily accessible. The public hopes that they can and will continue to hold and express opinions through all forms of media while strictly adhering to the norms of decency and factual integrity. G25 also supports existing laws that monitor or prosecute purveyors of fake news.

We, the members of G25, call upon the new prime minister, whoever he may be after the next sitting of Parliament, to respect the wishes of the people who strongly advocate urgent institutional reforms.

We want to see considerable changes to the electoral system to provide a level playing field for all political parties, big and small, with money politics being banned.

We want to see fair competition that would render elections meaningful for our democracy.

We want a strong system of checks and balances among the institutions of government because, as we can see from what is happening now, we cannot blindly rely on the declarations of honesty and integrity from our politicians. We need them to be persons of integrity so they can protect the interests of the nation and the people.

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We should have a civil service and governmental institutions that are honest, courageous and independent of political influence so they can become pillars of strength and hope in good and bad times.

Malaysia should emulate developed countries, where prime ministers and their cabinet may fall, but the nation’s administrative machinery continues to function smoothly. These countries are aware that their democratic system must always provide for the stability and continuity of public services, which are vital for a healthy and functioning economy.

We should be a country where there are no draconian laws, which not only stifle freedom of expression, assembly and association but also create a bad impression of a government that is afraid of its own people.

We welcome Muhyiddin’s assurance in his speech on 2 March that his priority as Prime Minister is to increase administrative integrity and management and to fight corruption and abuse of power.

We are further heartened by his assurance that his cabinet will comprise clean individuals with calibre.

We hope that his cabinet members are those who believe in reforms in both the secular and religious aspects of government to make the country a model of tolerance for our multicultural country and its diversity of race and religion.

These reforms must include respect for our fundamental freedoms under the constitution and our plural society so that all races will feel a sense of pride and belonging as citizens of the country.

With all races feeling united as a nation, Malaysia will be able to recover from the current economic problems and become a successful high-income country in the near future, with the lower-income groups of all races enjoying higher standards of living.

Nothing is more powerful in uniting the people than a well-functioning and prosperous economy. But this does not come from the sky. It comes from good and honest government.

Source: themalaymailonline.com, 3 March 2020

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