Can Malaysia end the leadership crisis?

By Fakhrurrazi Rashid

[For Bahasa Malaysia version please click here]

The political developments this time has really disappointed the people. The Perikatan Nasional government (PN) led by Muhyiddin Yassin has failed to highlight the leadership needed by the country during the Covid-19 crisis.

The leadership crisis in the government is getting more and more serious. Apparently, the ’27 -0 ‘victory during the 2021 Budget committee level vote does not give any guarantee that Muhyiddin’s government will remain strong for this year.

Now, after the Covid-19 numbers increase to more than 3,000 cases a day, the emergency order is implemented without any preparation, planning and open discussion with the people.

The question is, to what extent are emergency orders and movement control orders (MCO) capable of relaxing Covid-19 curves? Will this move also solve the leadership crisis which is also increasingly worrying?

The deterioration of performance and leadership of the PN government stems from misgovernance. The issues of transparency and accountability in making decisions and providing information are a big problem for the PN government.

The PN government dominates every decision made without providing an open discussion space with members of Parliament, stakeholders and state leaders.

This has caused rakyat to face so many uncertainties at this difficult moment due to the inconsistency by the government i.e the last-minute change in SOPs and ‘dua darjat’ practices between ministers and the rakyat.

The PN government should be more prepared to plan ahead after overcoming the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis for the past 11 months. However, the government’s actions today are increasingly being questioned by the public.

The fact is discussions between the government and parliamentarians in making important decisions for managing pandemics are not something foreign and difficult to implement.

For instance, Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis brought a motion to his parliament to discuss plans and strategy to fight Covid-19 together with opposition MPs on Jan 15, 2021.

The same is true in the United Kingdom. The House of Common has agreed to extend the lockdown proposed by the Conservative government on Jan 6, 2021, with a vote of 524 MPs in favour and 16 against. The lockdown debate took place after the death toll of Covid-19 in the UK escalated.

The approach by the UK and Greek parliaments are so effective and set an example of togetherness and solidarity for both parties to build back better the entire country in the time of unprecedented crisis. The government and the opposition can make good decisions and build public confidence in the country’s direction in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.

Only transparent and accountability principles can save the PN government. This can be done through with solidarity and political will by the PN government to work with all parties, including the opposition; to continue functioning as a minority government.

For the time being, the PN government needs to call a special parliamentary session to provide clarification and allow MPs to debate the proposals to improve the management of Covid-19.

The special parliamentary sitting is very important as the PN government is ready to present the National Pandemic Management Strategic Plan soon. Of course, all 136 initiatives in this strategic plan need to be discussed by all MPs so that the implementation of the policy takes into account the interests of all parties.

Not only that, but special parliamentary sessions also need to be held immediately so that Parliament can look at additional government spending especially during this crisis. The government should have an economic stimulus package to overcome economic problems during emergencies and the MCO.

This approach will ultimately restore the people’s confidence to support the government’s leadership in the fight against Covid-19. This is more widely accepted and safe compared to the old approach and snap elections which ultimately still will not guarantee government stability or that the Covid-19 cases will subside.

Parliament is the pulse of the people. If the government suspends Parliament, it seems to stop the hopes and lives of the people to see their elected representatives voice their views to the government to improve the quality of life for the rakyat.

Therefore, the PN government should reconsider the proposal to suspend the parliamentary session during an emergency. Parliamentary institutions are the heart of our democracy to ensure that Malaysia is still led by a credible government that has a great desire to rebuild a better Malaysia.

– Published in MalaysiaKini on 14 January 2021.

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