No confidence in the no-confidence vote – we deserve the opposition we get

umar mukhtar

Umar Mukhtar

The numbers say it all. The opposition would need around twenty-five Barisan Nasional members of parliament to rebel and join the opposition’s vote. Common wisdom and opposition propaganda point to BN MPs as not giving a hoot to break ranks. Lim Kit Siang had already highlightef that fact, as if to rest all blame for the failure on scared or paid off BN MPs.

There may be some truth in that but the opposition is mostly to be blamed. Votes of no-confidence are not unique in the history of world parliamentary democracies. MPs do cross over and vote their no-confidence based on their conscience, whatever the personal or party risk. Especially when a successful vote of no-confidence normally only resulted in a change of a prime minister and his administration, not a change of ruling party.

After a successful vote, the Constitution requires the Yang diPertuan Agong to call on someone else to be prime minister, he who the YDPA believes will enjoy the support of a majority of MPs in parliament. In our case, it will, in all probability, be a BN MP because in such a situation, rebel BN MPs did not break ranks to spite their party but to remove a particular person as PM. After that, it’s business as usual but with new leadership from the ruling party.

Somehow, that doesn’t sound like something that LKS would die for. It is vintage LKS to want to have a say on who the the new PM will be. Are you kidding? It is never your choice!. The rebel MPs did not forfeit their party’s right to rule. So in the absence of an opportunity to mess around on and agree to a consensual replacement, LKS just treated this vote, if any, as just an academic and a public relations exercise. So the potential rebels get turned off and the vote is off.

Even if the overwhelming majority of the Rakyat want a change of PM, LKS would still want this opportunity to be one that he can take advantage of. The Rakyat be damned, DAP’s parochial interests rule. The short-changed Rakyat have to continue living in misery until PRU14 in the hope for change.

The problem is, DAP and our opposition do not act like His Majesty’s loyal opposition. Their followers don’t even understand that politics is not just about winning elections, but also deferring to the Rakyat’s wishes where appropriate, sometimes at the expense of putting on hold your party’s immediate goals. In Malay, it is gelojoh to grab at everything that passes.

It is amazing that PAS and PKR treat this vote as a chance to continue their internal bickering whatever and however boring those may be. The PAS leader TG Haji Hadi Awang would even say that he’s non-committal, in spite of both his No. 2 and party secretary-general declaring earlier their party’s support for a no-confidence vote. And PKR? We just know from the grapevine that man residing in Sungai Buloh prefers to retain the status quo. Why? Must be from reading too much Shakespeare, without ‘Macbeth’ being one of them.

The point is, it must be for the opposition to lead, to package an acceptable understanding with potential BN rebels, something that they would make sacrifices for. For them, it is a sacrifice, unlike the opposition, to whom it should be duty. How to convince others when you can’t even convince  your fellow opposition?

A package to BN MPs that just says, “If you want to change your leader by parliamentary means, we are available to assist towards that end for the sake of the country. The rest after that is up to you, and we shall abstain from voting for your choice of replacement.” They will take it from there, and PKR’s Azmin Ali doesn’t have to tete-à-tête with Dr. Mahathir. It’s not rocket science, if you have the Rakyat’s interest in mind. And cut out the other petty crap.

So it’s up to the opposition. The parliamentary vote of no-confidence, or the vote to attempt to defeat the budget, must be held in a House divided. Win or lose, it is moot but it will show that parliamentary democracy is alive and well in this country. Be assured that a majority of Malaysians want change from the present quagmire, be they from BN or the opposition ranks. It is up to you to manage things to that end, partisan politics and personal egos aside.

Otherwise, it’s simply that we deserve the opposition we get.