Perikatan Nasional’s year of tenuous existence

A year has passed since the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration came into power as a result of the Sheraton Move that saw the ouster of the Pakatan Harapan government.

It has been an eventful year replete with theatrics, intrigues, controversies, horse-trading, party-hopping, court rulings and convictions that reveal the integrity, or the lack of it, of our elected representatives.

Bersatu leaders who manage the PN administration resorted to unconventional means of consolidating their positions and to keep intact the fragile coalition.

This includes giving PN MPs lucrative positions in government-linked companies, statutory bodies, government agencies and appointing them as special envoys with ministerial status that are non-functional just to garner support.

It was a difficult balancing act as the coalition is composed of strange bedfellows who could become turncoats and even predators when circumstances warrant; each to its own best interests. Further, they do not have electoral sanction but were given the privilege of royal assent.

In such a situation, the ethical and moral principles of governance are sacrificed for political expediency. And the democratic principles of separation of power and the institution of check and balance are suspended to favour the Executive’s agenda of clinging to power at whatever cost.

As such, the role of Parliament as the voice of the people and to hold the Executive accountable was neutralised.

From the time of the change of government, PN used every means to stall parliamentary sitting, postponing it for almost five months and only met for half a day at the end of the sanctioned postponement period – only to listen to the royal address.

Then, there was the unprecedented attempt to declare an emergency without the basis of security or economic threats, which the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers deemed as unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, the Executive managed to convince the Agong on the second attempt to declare emergency using the spectre of escalating Covid-19 infections as justification to safeguard the health of the people. Thus, Parliament remains suspended until August.

Just recently, the Agong proclaimed that Parliament could meet during the emergency, but the Executive ignored this edict on the flimsy pretext that it was unsafe for MPs to gather in a parliamentary caucus as most of them are in the high risk group, thus susceptible to infections despite the stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs).

However, it is ironical that massage parlours and wellness centres are allowed to operate despite the close proximity of patrons and the workers.

Another anomaly is that restaurants and entertainment outlets are allowed to open. Likewise, schools are opened to face to face teaching. Only Parliament is suspended.

This seems like a deliberate attempt to undermine the functioning of Parliament mainly to serve a political agenda.

Since taking over the reins of government, PN caused some ripples of concern regarding the judicial system when the Attorney-General concluded an agreement with Reza Aziz, the stepson of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and the return of assets and monies bought from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd heist in return for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

Another major concern is the dropping of 40 corruption charges against former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman. To avoid being blamed for travesty of justice, the PN administration refrained from further interference of the ongoing high profile corruption cases involving Umno leaders. And to date, three of them have been convicted and are appealing their sentences.

What is also evident in the past year is the disruption of the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The economy is reeling despite the injection of various financial packages and this dire situation is compounded by the lack of focus due to the distraction of political imbroglio.

Nevertheless, the coalition has painted a positive outlook citing encouraging GDP statics, foreign direct investment approved investments, managing the poverty index and the projection in the increase of employment. However, these projections and prognosis seem askance to the reality on the ground.

The PN coalition itself is facing unprecedented challenges from its partners, mainly Umno/Barisan Nasional, which has decided to sever ties with Bersatu but its MPs will maintain support until the dissolution of Parliament.

Several Umno MPs have withdrawn support for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration. Even Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who is from Umno, has been critical of Muhyiddin’s declaration of emergency and the suspension of Parliament.

The political situation is in flux, the economy is struggling and the people are suffering. Perhaps Muhyiddin’s visit to Saudi Arabia, among other things, is to seek divine guidance and also to gain political mileage to resolve the political impasse and the economic quagmire.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.