Pakatan MPs betrayed us – Can we trust the Opposition?

Jimmy Adit

Jimmy Adit, The Ant Daily

When Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lost GE13, the opposition coalition took comfort in the fact that it garnered 50.87% of the popular vote.

Its leaders mocked Barisan Nasional (BN)’s victory, saying it won a majority of the seats on a mere 47.38% of the popular vote.

They said only gerrymandering and electoral fraud had ensured that BN get 133 of the 222-seat Parliament and went on to form the federal government.

BN polled 5.220 million votes to PR’s 5.489 million, for a deficit of 269,130 votes. The Opposition said the majority of voting Malaysians wanted PR to govern the country.

PR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim even went on to say that the opposition pact rejected the results of the poll, saying: “As of now, we are not accepting the results…until the EC (Election Commission) responds and issues an official statement to the allegations of irregularities and fraud.”

Like Anwar and his PR pact, 5.489 million voting Malaysians felt cheated by BN and Umno, the party led by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

PR may have lost the election but it had won the hearts of the majority of Malaysians.

PR frolicked in that glory until the night the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) was passed by the Parliament.

A total of 5.489 million Malaysians who voted for PR in the 2013 general election felt betrayed by the opposition coalition when 24 opposition MPsfailed to turn up for a bloc voting on the Pota during the wee hours of April 7.

Pota was passed with 79 from BN supporting it and 60 from the Opposition against it.

What had at first looked not quite possible had happened. The Malaysian majority that had backed PR in the last general election were shocked into disgust not so much because Pota got through parliament but more because of the way it was passed.

PR MPs, 24 of them, had none of the mental and moral strength of their BN counterparts, giving BN a free rein, despite initial tough words from several of the opposition MPs against what they perceived as a rush job that lacked transparency.

Accusing the government of playing dirty, the Opposition demanded for the Pota draft.

Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen said on March 18: “We demand this draft be presented to us by tomorrow and put on the website for the world, public to be able to read it. Any delay is a travesty of justice and a travesty of parliamentary democracy.”

In the same breath, PAS’ Kuala Terengganu MP Raja Kamarul Bahrin Raja Ahmad said: “Please don’t treat the general public and Members of Parliament like we are absolute idiots. I’m sorry to use such words, but that’s how they are treating us.

“As if we are just there to rubber stamp and bulldoze everything through. It’s been practised for too long. We have seen abuses (of laws) before, with the Internal Security Act (ISA), and presently with the Sedition Act.

“We have reason to fear that there may be further abuse with this new Act. We have requested for it, enough time, so we can deliberate and study the Act.”

The situation, it seemed, was critical. Pota must be opposed at all cost – for now.

A total of 5.489 million voting Malaysians and more put their trust on the opposition MPs to make sure Pota fail in Parliament, until further clarifications are given and amendments made to prevent abuse.

Speaking to reporters after the first reading of Pota on March 30, both Wong and Raja Bahrin aired their misgivings over certain elements of the proposed law, which they argued rendered Pota a minor adjustment of the ISA and a “threat to the already very fragile fundamental liberties that we have in this country.”

Wong said: “Our main point is very clear: severe restrictions on civil liberty are in this Pota. Detention without trial, infinitely renewable every two years…this is no different from ISA, you know? Minor adjustment. With ISA, they could just detain you forever. This one needs to be renewed every two years.”

Raja Bahrin said: “The only difference between ISA and this is that instead of ISA being indefinite from the beginning, this is renewable for two-year-blocks. So this is just another ISA in disguise.”

On April 7, reports said there was chaos in Parliament as opposition MPs tried to stop the draconian Pota from being passed.

The Rakyat Post reported:

“The Opposition tried to use Rule 52 (2) for the Act to be referred to a Parliament Select Committee.

“When it was refused, Seremban MP Anthony Loke stood up so that a vote could be taken to either agree or disagree, to which 80 parliamentarians disagreed.

“Opposition MPs then proceeded to raise amendments to the bill under rule 57 (2).

“The Opposition also suggested that clauses 4, 5, 6 and 13 until 28 be scrapped completely.

“Nevertheless, all their objections were dismissed when put to a vote.

“As of 11.50pm, the debate was continuing in Parliament.”

But at 2.30am, more important matters than Pota drew 24 opposition MPs out of the Parliament building.