Nationhood and unity is the priority - what’s so strange?

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 19 May 2020

I refer to Liew Chin Tong’s recent two-part article on what he perceived as “strange” for the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, whom he fondly referred to as “elderly friend”, to have chosen to form government with his former foes.

Firstly, Liew must be sincere and show respect to his elderly friend in ethics and deeds.

I loathe the fact that Liew has shamelessly disclosed details of private conversations between him and his “elderly friend” in the most unbecoming manner of a breach of confidentiality, in which the latter confided with him his personal thoughts and emotions on occasions.

If Liew was sincere and a true friend, he should uphold his integrity by keeping the conversations private. Writing the chronicles of events and the private views of an elderly friend who had trusted him says nothing more of Liew than him being opportunistic and attempting to politically ruin the credibility of a man who is busy fighting to save the country from the Covid19 scourge.

The Prime Minister has been functional, steadfast and committed to lead the nation out of crisis, and refused to be drawn into political debates at this point. He cares more about the welfare of the people than what is said about him by being elegant and silent despite being attacked by mudslingers or those hitting below the belt.

As of now, the nation is fighting to contain the Covid-19 pandemic with the sacrifices made by thousands of frontliners defending the lives of millions of Malaysians.

The Prime Minister and his Cabinet have proven that they were able to make executive decisions to contain the spread of the pandemic including the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) despite the decision being initially unpopular among the Malaysian public.

Leaders need to show resilience and Muhyiddin has demonstrated such qualities far beyond the expectations of many, in the fight against Covid-19 and in managing the economic crisis as a result.

Liew stated it himself that on several occasions, Muhyiddin was not pleased with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s political manoeuvring and that Muhyiddin sensed the growing discontent among the public towards the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government and the handling of the economy and the plight of the common man, yet most Pakatan leaders were engrossed in party politics pressuring Dr Mahathir to retire.

Naturally they overlooked the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, in our neighbouring countries and Malaysia.

So, when the Pakatan government disintegrated towards the third week of February 2020, the nation was at the point of breakdown and the subsequent resignation of Dr Mahathir of his own accord was the tipping point.

Muhyiddin did not ask Dr Mahathir to resign and neither did Barisan Nasional and PAS MPs. Instead they all supported Dr Mahathir to continue to be the prime minister then but he insisted on resigning when he was under siege within Pakatan to resign or hand over power to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. This was conveniently left out by all the Pakatan political narratives.

There was no room for error. There was no room for prolonged political crisis. A decision had to be made and the Barisan Nasional and PAS MPs backed the man they thought had shown leadership and resolve in leading the country out of the crisis, as well as the man who shared the view that the previous administration had failed to address the issues faced by the man of the street – with economic slowdown, rising external borrowings, job losses, stagnating income levels, rising prices of goods, and many more unfulfilled election promises.

The King was forced to step in and save the day. Our Yang di-Pertuan Agong had to exercise his duty and discharge his constitutional duty along with parliamentary democracy to overcome the impending political crisis at a most trialling time.

As the saying goes, “there are no permanent enemies (or friends) in politics”.

Just as the case with Dr Mahathir, Anwar and Lim Kit Siang, or Datuk Seri Azmin Ali. For decades, the Lims had condemned Dr Mahathir but they found a common cause that led to Pakatan’s victory in 2018.

Liew, perhaps you would realise by now that in politics, there is no “holier than thou” situation - every individual must act according to the circumstances for the sake of national interest and nationhood.

There’s a bigger picture to look at instead of your narrow partisan political view. In fact, your elderly friend had actually exercised wisdom by taking side with MPs who wanted to see a stronger economy, sufficient assistance given to the lower income groups, and stability of government in anticipation of a collapsing government, a disrupted economy and tackling an impending pandemic of which the Pakatan government chose to ignore or acted lackadaisically.

The current Perikatan Nasional government may not have been elected as Pakatan lamented, but all 222 MPs who were granted an audience by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Feb 25 were, and every one of them had the opportunity to state their support for a prime minister candidate.

The audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was a constitutional process in accordance with Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution, and therefore the decision of the King should be respected.

Perhaps what was unfortunate for Pakatan was that the majority of MPs voted in favour of stronger and stable leadership, rather than party loyalty.

No, Perikatan did not grab power from Pakatan. Your government collapsed, and the majority of the 222 MPs took it upon themselves to save the country from political crisis – voting legally and legitimately for a new Prime Minister under the Westminster system in the presence of the Head of State.

Pakatan MPs should stop instigating the people and stop challenging His Majesty’s discretion in announcing the Prime Minister “who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House” (Article 43 (2a)).

There was no provision under the Federal Constitution that the majority support must be displayed during a Parliament sitting, nor that MPs must support their own political parties.

Pakatan was disintegrating even before the year ended. The issue was amplified with a 94-year-old man who could not let go of power (and wants to return to power) being at loggerheads with a man who has been fighting all his life to be Prime Minister supported strongly by DAP.

To them, their world was that small, but to Muhyiddin and the rest of us, the continuity of government, and law and order was far more important.

Muhyiddin still refrains from reciprocating the attacks against him, and prefers to focus on rebuilding the nation amidst Covid-19 and solving problems faced by the common man.

Liew, please try to rise to the occasion – and have the morality to keep private conversations private.

Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker

MCA vice-president

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