Not one, not two, but four lawmakers from Opposition Perikatan Nasional have publicly declared their support for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The political landscape started to shake on Oct 12 with Kuala Kangsar MP Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid, followed by Labuan MP Suhaili Abdul Rahman (Oct 30), and then Gua Musang MP Mohd Azizi Abu Naim (Nov 7).
The latest Member of Parliament who joined the bandwagon was Zahari Kechik, a lawmaker from Jeli constituency. Interestingly, all of them are members of the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) party – triggering speculation that its leader, former backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, is losing control. And you can bet your last penny that this is just the beginning.
At the rate Bersatu MPs switch support, the party could disintegrate before the coming Christmas. With 31 MPs in the 222-seat parliament, the party has the same number of seats as Anwar’s People’s Justice Party (PKR). Bersatu, together with its ally Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS – Parti Islam Se-Malaysia), are the two biggest Malay-Muslim parties in Perikatan Nasional coalition.
The stunning change in political alliances has not only led to disciplinary actions within Bersatu, but saw PAS Islamist party scrambled to assure that none of its MPs would pull a similar stunt. Bersatu’s disciplinary board has since suspended Iskandar for four years and Suhaili for six years. Despite its strong 43 MPs, PAS would be significantly weakened if Bersatu collapsed.
As usual, money talks and bullshit walks. Using the same boring excuse, all the Bersatu defectors said that they had to pledge support for the Anwar administration in order to access development funds from the government to ease the burden faced by their constituents. However, they insisted they were still loyal to Bersatu and had no intention of joining parties in the Anwar-led unity government.
If it’s true that the Bersatu MPs could not survive and had to surrender in less than a year since they won their seats, it only goes to show how fragile and unreliable the party members are. Compared to the Democratic Action Party (DAP), the former opposition party which had been denied allocations for decades since it was founded in 1965, Bersatu is indeed pathetic and disgraceful.
Crucially, Bersatu leaders’ inability to persevere as opposition exposes its vulnerability. Bersatu secretary-general and opposition de-facto leader Hamzah Zainudin has claimed that a businessman had tried to bribe the party’s MPs with positions at GLCs (government-linked companies) as well as Cabinet posts – even offering to settle their personal debts – in exchange for support for Anwar.
Hamzah and the opposition parties should stop whining, crying and bitching over spilt milk. They should have made it a law to fairly distribute allocations to all MPs regardless of allegiance or alliance when Muhyiddin became the country’s first backdoor prime minister. The Opposition cannot expect Anwar government to be fair now when it had refused to give equal allocations when it was the government.
What goes around comes around. It seems “karma” is not done with the most treacherous party in the country. After seizing power in the infamous “Sheraton Move”, whereby Bersatu president Muhyiddin had plotted with enemies – UMNO and PAS – to topple democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government in March 2020, Muhyiddin was himself betrayed by a faction of UMNO leaders.
He served for only 17 months, becoming the shortest serving premier since Malaysian independence in 1957 after losing parliamentary support. The traitor thought he could return as prime minister again after the November 2022 General Election. But his arrogance in snubbing the King’s proposal to form a Unity Government has reduced Perikatan Nasional to the opposition camp.
During his short premiership, he had bribed rival Pakatan Harapan MPs with positions and projects just to cling to power with a razor-thin 114-majority. Even after his strategic error in rejecting the King’s offer, Muhyiddin and Hamzah continued to topple Anwar government by working with an UMNO mole – Hishammuddin Hussein – along with 10 MPs through SD (statutory declarations).
However, drunk with power and arrogance, none of the top brains in the opposition realized that the tactic of forming yet another backdoor regime using SD was obsolete after the new anti-hopping law took effect on 5 October 2022. Hishammuddin and his gang cannot declare support for Muhyiddin as prime minister and jump ship without losing their parliamentary seats.
While anti-hopping law prevents lawmakers from jumping ship unless it is through en-bloc defection, a lawmaker who resigns is free to join another political party and still be able to contest without any penalty. This is due to a loophole – either deliberately or ignorantly designed. Meaning Hishammuddin can re-contest again after switching support and loyalty.
Apparently, the anti-hopping provisions have “removed” Clause (6) of Article 48, which disqualifies a person from being a member of Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) for a period of 5 years if they resign their membership of the House of Representatives. Essentially, with the deletion of this restriction, it enables an MP who resigns to seek re-election at any time.
So, why hasn’t Hishammuddin resigned? Because there’s no guarantee those who resigned and re-contest will win again their respective seats. For example, MCA president Wee Ka Siong won his Ayer Hitam seat due to UMNO-Malay votes, as did Wee Jeck Seng (Tanjung Piai) and Saravanan (Tapah). Even Hishammuddin isn’t sure he can retain Sembrong seat if he were to contest under Perikatan Nasional banner.
Worse, after the recent six state elections and Johor’s twin by-elections, Perikatan Nasional realized that the “green wave” was only strong in the northern part, gradually losing its steam when reached Selangor before stopping in Negeri Sembilan – and rejected in the southern state of Johor. This is why Hishammuddin refuses to trigger by-elections as he will definitely lose.
The only way to keep his seat without going through a by-election is if he is sacked from his party. But Zahid Hamidi, the president of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), was smart enough to paralyse Hishammuddin by suspending him for six years. In the same breath, the four Bersatu MPs who “defect” have cleverly declared their support for PM Anwar while insisting that they remained loyal to their party.
Bersatu was facing the same problem like UMNO when their MPs went rogue. The parties can at most suspend their disloyal lawmakers as the anti-hopping law does not apply to an MP who is sacked. But the rogue MPs can still make tonnes of annoying drama to provoke the party leadership to sack them, like asking for a seating change in the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House).
Yes, House Speaker Johari Abdul reveals that he has received a written notice from the four Bersatu MPs of their naughty desire to be seated among the MPs of Unity Government. Not only they were insulting their party leadership with a half-baked pledge of loyalty, but have shown the “middle finger” to Muhyiddin and Hamzah to fire them after their obvious act of defection.
The best part is the anti-hopping law is silent about how MPs could lose their seats based on their preference of the seating arrangement in the August House. Muhyiddin and de-facto leader Hamzah were incredibly humiliated. The Speaker said the four Bersatu MPs specifically told him that they were no longer “comfortable” sitting with the rest of their party colleagues in the Opposition bloc.
If Bersatu sacks all of them, the unity government gets four free seats. But if the opposition party refuses to sack the traitors, or just suspend them, it will still lose four seats and worse – emboldens other MPs to follow suit. Alternatively, it can consider a confidence and supply agreement (CSA) to support the Anwar government, which it has been demonized, in exchange for equal allocations.
Even if a CSA deal can be made, it will create a new crisis between Bersatu and PAS. Either way, PM Anwar has strengthened his parliamentary support to 151 – beyond the 148 super-majority seats. It would certainly be comical if the disgraced Muhyiddin and Hamzah shamelessly claim they have 31 seats in the parliament despite the majority of them moved to the unity government bloc.
The Unity Government should not celebrate prematurely though. The four Bersatu defectors could be “Trojan horse”, who can still switch their alliance back to their party. The tactic of switching support without switching parties is a double-edged sword. UMNO moles like Hishammuddin Hussein – and even moles within Anwar’s PKR party – may use the same “loophole” to topple the prime minister.
If the defections were orchestrated by Bersatu strategists to test the water, and PM Anwar foolishly swallows the hook, line and sinker by “legitimizing” the four Bersatu MPs support for him, a vote of confidence in parliament could see 10 UMNO MPs along with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) suddenly crossing over to Perikatan Nasional in “Sheraton Move 2.0”.
The recent appointment of Mahathir Mohamad as adviser to Perikatan Nasional might be the secret weapon to persuade Sarawak-based GPS to switch support to Perikatan Nasional from Pakatan Harapan, leading to the collapse of Anwar government. The PM should close all loopholes in the anti-hopping law. He does not need the dubious support from the four Bersatu MPs.
If only Bersatu had amended its constitution to make MPs automatically lose their membership via resignation for expressing support for another party or has acted to the detriment of the party, like how DAP and Amanah did, it would not have lost four MPs today. Therefore, it has no one to blame but itself. It arrogantly thought everyone would scramble to join the party, and never thought its own MPs would quit in betrayal.
Source : Finance Twitter