THE Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) refers to a proposal submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by Pejuang protem chairperson Tun Mahathir Mohamad that a National Operations Council (Mageran) be set up to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
We would like to state that the proposed Mageran 2.0 will cripple the role of Parliament as a platform for policymaking. With the proclamation of the Emergency earlier in 2021, the role of this third branch of government was already crippled when Parliament and the Parliamentary Select Committees were not allowed to sit during this period.
The most suitable platform to discuss the way forward for Malaysia to emerge from the Covid-19 epidemic and deal with its impact on the country’s socioeconomic situation is to reconvene Parliament. In the current Emergency period, all powers are centralised under the Executive and all actions and instructions from this branch of government cannot be checked effectively as there is no need for the Executive to answer questions raised by representatives elected by the people.
Bersih 2.0 previously issued several statements calling for Parliament to reconvene to restore its role of oversight of the Executive in dealing with Covid-19. The Emergency proclamation did not succeed in lowering the daily number of Covid-19 cases resulting in the government announcing MCO (movement control order) 3.0, which further negatively impacted the national economy and the people. To repeat the same action by setting up Mageran 2.0 is regressive because once again power will be centralised under certain individuals without a check and balance system in place involving all parties.
Mageran 2.0 is redundant because what is important now is to end the Emergency immediately so that the government and the Opposition can play their roles.
All government programmes, such as the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, and the committees involved, such as the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply, can be monitored and improved by ideas emerging from debates when Parliamentary Select Committees meet.
Bersih 2.0 calls on the Federal Government to immediately negotiate a confidence and supply agreement (CSA) with the Opposition with the aim of fighting the pandemic collectively and to stabilise the nation’s politics by making the necessary reforms and concessions. If the Perak state government under Menteri Besar Datuk Saarani Mohamad can achieve cooperation with the Opposition in the state under the leadership of Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, what is stopping Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin from discussing issues with parliamentary Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim?
The CSA-style model in Perak, that includes matters such as equal constituency development funds and district action committees involving the Opposition, could be developed at the federal level by allowing Parliamentary Select Committees to meet and check government measures. The federal CSA should be announced publicly so that the people know what terms and reforms have been agreed between the Federal Government and the Opposition.
We can get out of this pandemic safely if all parties join hands and work together honestly and earnestly.
STEERING COMMITTEE OF BERSIH 2.0