Political crisis not over, confidence-and-supply agreement still needed

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Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) welcomes the Malay rulers’ judgement that an emergency is not necessary in combating Covid-19, as most Malaysians would agree.

The Muhyiddin government’s abortive self-coup is cynically driven by its fear of a Budget defeat, but a proclamation of emergency provided under Article 150(1) is only for security, economic life and public order, and does not cover the prime minister’s job security.

Bersih 2.0 cautions the public that the political crisis is not over yet because:

  • By proposing a proclamation of emergency to evade a budget defeat, as candidly revealed by Federal Territories Minister Anuar Musa and Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Ali Biju, the prime minister has indirectly admitted his loss of majority
  • Parliamentarians must have the freedom to vote down the Budget and if they choose to exercise their power to reject the government’s budget, it is their legitimate right under the Federal Constitution. As approving the government’s budget is one of a Westminster parliaments’ key functions, parliamentarians cannot be compelled to blindly approve the government’s budget
  • If the government’s Budget is defeated, the PM must immediately table and get a motion of confidence passed for his government. Alternatively, the Parliament can pass a motion of confidence for another MP to be the new Prime Minister. If no motion of confidence can be passed for either the PM or any other MP, a confidence and supply agreement involving parties representing a majority of parliamentarians will be needed to avoid a snap poll.

To ensure political stability without emasculating Parliament on its budgetary power, we call upon the government and the opposition to reach a confidence-and-supply agreement. Our full position on such an agreement in the latest circumstance is as follows:

  • A confidence and supply agreement would will allow the government’s Budget to be improvised by the opposition parliamentarians and to be more prudent, effective and inclusive when no sector and community should be overlooked in our battle against Covid-19
  • A confidence-and-supply agreement should serve the basis to end political enmity and machination through necessary reforms such as parliamentary reforms, recall elections, equal constituency allocations for all MPs and the separation of Public Prosecution Office from the Attorney-General’s Chambers
  • As his emergency scheme has met objections from even Umno and Gabungan Parti Sarawak besides the opposition and civil society, Muhyiddin Yassin is weaker than before Friday when he moved his abortive self-coup. He must own up and seek a confidence and supply agreement with the official opposition
  • Unless he can assemble a majority with names and prove this in Parliament, Parliamentary Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim must play the role as His Majesty’s loyal Opposition and pursue a confidence and supply agreement that ensures both a prudent, effective and inclusive Budget 2021 budget to combat Covid-19 and economic recession and provide a credible roadmap for parliamentary, electoral, political finance, institutional and prosecutorial reforms
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Bersih 2.0 steering commitee

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