‘Remarks may create political uncertainty and instability’

PETALING JAYA: PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang’s remark that the Opposition has the right to plan the government’s downfall risks being taken as a sign that Perikatan Nasional’s ambition is to seize federal power before the five-year term is up, say political observers.

They said it also might create political uncertainty and instability, which could jeopardise Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s attempts to restore the confidence of international investors that had taken a hit due to years of Malaysia’s political turmoil.

Universiti Sains Malaysia professor of political sociology Sivamurugan Pandian said that when a government was formed based on an agreement with different blocs, it was not surprising to hear remarks being made that the government could be changed.

“But it is also a signal that the Opposition is trying to find opportunities within itself while looking as well to see if others from the ruling government are looking for opportunities to leave and join them,” he said.

He added that Abdul Hadi’s comment could also be a strategy to drum up support for the upcoming six state elections to show that the Opposition was able to wrest federal power legitimately if there was a trust crisis in the Federal Government.

Prof Sivamurugan said such statements would bring about instability and uncertainty, as well as memories of the political drama between 2018 and 2022, when the nation saw three changes of government within four years.

“It is certainly not healthy for our economy and foreign direct investment (FDI).

“While the Prime Minister is trying to build back the confidence and trust of the international community, domestic instability can affect his efforts in finding opportunities to collaborate with foreign partners.

“Political stability is pertinent now. But if this (remark on planning the government’s downfall) continues, I am afraid we will again be in the kind of dilemma we faced from 2018 to 2022,” he added.

He said the unity government was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s recommendation.

Should talk of toppling the government continue, the King would be displeased as His Majesty had expressed, during his Royal Address at the start of the second session of the Parliament on Feb 13, his wish for the current government to remain until the end of its term, added Prof Sivamurugan.

Senior lecturer Dr Mazlan Ali of the Perdana Centre of the Razak Faculty of Technology and Informatics at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said that in the Westminster parliamentary system, the Opposition had a duty to conduct checks and balances to keep the government accountable.

In theory, in the Westminster system, taking over the government should only be done via an election, he said.

“Even if Abdul Hadi says the act of overthrowing the government is not a problem because the principle is whoever has the majority can form the government, democracy has principles that need to be followed and the existing government has the majority, so it must be respected.

“Toppling the government in a way that contradicts democracy such as by getting a vote of no confidence, collecting statutory declarations and government supporters who are no longer loyal, is not right.

“If we have an Opposition that has intentions to topple this government, it can cause political instability because the fallen government will move to topple the newly appointed government, and it will go on and on, so our country will never be safe,” said Mazlan.

Socio-political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi from the Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Election said the meaning of Abdul Hadi’s open admission was that the Opposition was always looking for weaknesses in the unity government, in addition to continuing to ensure that there were movements that could topple Anwar’s government.

“This also portends that the government can be sabotaged at any time, including during the Umno elections,” he said.

He added that this could happen if the party polls saw more people who were against Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi filling important positions in the party, such as the vice-president and supreme council member posts.

Awang Azman said the police should investigate Abdul Hadi’s motive in making those remarks and that action should be taken so that any action threatening to result in instability, disharmony and political uncertainty caused by him could be stopped.

“People are getting restless, worried and insecure over Abdul Hadi’s continuous statements,” he said.

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