ISKANDAR PUTERI: For the first time in history, Johor assemblymen who are not in the ruling coalition will be known as the “balancing force” or “pihak pengimbang”.
Last Thursday, the Ruler of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, suggested that the term “opposition” be reexamined, prompting this radical change.
“History was made with the adoption of the term ‘pihak pengimbang’, and Yang Berhormat Machap (Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi) also started using it on Sunday (in his speech).
“This term is more wholesome, accurate, comprehensive and forward-looking,” said state assembly Speaker Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi during the beginning of the state assembly meeting in Kota Iskandar here yesterday.
Mohd Puad said the usage of the new term would create a more balanced assembly.
When opening the current state assembly meeting on March 16, Sultan Ibrahim said the term “pihak pengimbang” should be considered and added that the term “opposition” might no longer serve its purpose.
His Majesty said this was because the opposition’s role was more than just to merely oppose; they play the role of check and balance to ensure the state government did not do as they please.
However, he advised them to refrain from seeking revenge or being nitpicky, adding that he had no issues with the term “pihak pengimbang”.
Meanwhile, Johor Opposition chief Andrew Chen Kah Eng said he would be known as “ketua pihak pengimbang” and hoped the new term would pave the way for better cooperation with the civil servants as well.
“Hopefully the civil servants will now feel at ease and work with opposition representatives without any political pressure.
“Apart from playing the role of providing checks and balance, I also hope the Mentri Besar and state exco members will include us in meetings so we can provide constructive input and solve issues concerning the rakyat,” said the Stulang assemblyman.
Out of Johor’s 56 state seats, 40 are under Barisan Nasional, while the rest are under Pakatan Harapan (12), Perikatan Nasional (three) and the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (one).