The much-anticipated moment came to pass when Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim secured the vote of confidence in parliament on 19 December.
The motion was passed via a voice vote – after much shouting and trading of barbs across the aisle. Newly House of Representatives Speaker Johari Abdul certainly had a lot on his plate, with his patience severely tested.
This was the first parliamentary sitting after the recent general election on 19 November, which gave rise to a hung parliament.
Although the Tambun MP did not need to subject himself to this test as he already had a clear majority and royal blessings, he insisted on going through it as he rightly appreciated the importance of gaining political legitimacy, especially in a political environment that has so far been anything but stable.
Anwar wanted to lead the country with a clear mandate based on the support of the majority of parliamentarians so that he could undertake and focus on the task of rebuilding the nation.
In particular, the Anwar administration is expected to revive the sluggish economy as well as tackle the rising cost of living and increasing poverty.
Hopefully, with this mandate, Anwar and his team will not be easily distracted from the nation-rebuilding mission – possibly by political shenanigans aimed at destabilising the government and hindering the progress of the nation.
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Many, fatigued by politics, fear a ‘Sheraton move 2.0′ lurking in the shadows.
This is the first time since the infamous Sheraton move that a prime minister had demanded that his political legitimacy be tested on the floor of the house.
The previous two prime ministers shied away from such a vote in the august chamber. They relied on statutory declarations, the authenticity of which subsequently became suspect.
In the case of Mahiaddin Yasin, he resorted to a declaration of a nationwide ’emergency’ during the early phase of the Covid pandemic, which resulted in Parliament being temporarily closed down.
Many believe the then prime minister conveniently avoided his baptism of fire, if you like, under the cover of the ’emergency’.
Equally disturbing, the temporary suspension of Parliament meant that the government of the day escaped the necessary checks and balances during that period. Such a situation had an adverse effect on parliamentary democracy.
Despite claiming a majority support of MPs through a show of statutory declaration – and not on the floor of the House of Representatives – Mahiaddin still harboured at the time a sense of political insecurity, as indicated by the bloated cabinet that he led.
The Pagoh MP created many minister and deputy minister posts for MPs who supported him. These were clearly political rewards. This was apart from his so-called advisers and special envoys who were appointed by the prime minister concerned.
The lack of political legitimacy of the then prime minister had another unsavoury impact. More taxpayers’ money was wasted on the creation of positions in government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies, subsequently filled by MPs who lent their support to the then besieged prime minister.
That is why it is of political and financial significance that Anwar took the drastic decision recently to sack all political appointees in these government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies.
Only competent professionals should helm these government agencies so that they do not incur losses, but instead help further develop these outfits.
Seen from this perspective, it is highly regretted that Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi chose to defy the prime minister’s directive by reappointing Umno politician Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub as Felcra chairman. [Anwar has now put this movement on hold.]
Leaders of the ‘unity government’ cannot be seen to be working at cross-purposes if its legitimacy and survival are to be sustained throughout the entire term. Hiccups must be minimised.
The ethnic Malay-dominated Perikatan Nasional, on the other hand, is expected to play a role befitting a respectable opposition and government-in-waiting, offering constructive criticisms and alternative ideas for the benefit of the entire nation.
Hopefully, the vote of confidence Anwar has secured will help boost his commitment to work for the betterment of the ordinary folk. – The Malaysian Insight