Langkah Taktikal atau Cerita Dongeng
A Kadir Jasin
1. After the Budget voting debacle that handed victory to the Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, the Opposition Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, today launched his promised assault at the committee level by questioning allocation to the Prime Minister’s Department. So let us for now leave him to fight his battle.
2. In this post I would like to address the WhatsApp and email messages I received in connection with posting headlined “Langkah Taktikal atau Cerita Dongeng” (Tactical Move or Fairy Tales) two days ago, particularly one that accused me of excusing or forgiving Anwar for supporting the Budget.
3. The sender asked if Anwar was being truthful when he said, the Pakatan Harapan supported the the Budget (or did not oppose it) out of respect for the King.
4. If so, he said, why only at the last minute that the PH decided not to oppose the Bill when in the days running up to it PH leaders, Anwar in particular, were fiercely lobbying members of Dewan Rakyat to vote against it and concurrently topple the Perikatan Nasional Government?
5. They claimed that they had the numbers and would vote against the Budget. They sounded so convincing that even past midnight Wednesday – a day before the voting – the government wasn’t very sure of support for the Bill and made plans to delay the voting further to Monday (30 November).
6. Then, said one of the commentators, the numbers swung in favour of the government. It seems that by wee hours of Thursday, the PH got the news that Umno President, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and his faction had changed their minds and would not join the PH in opposing the Budget.
7. This, said the commentator, caused the PH leaders to panic. In a state of confusion, they sent WhatsApp messages to their MPs telling them not to oppose the Budget. Some, like the Amanah MPs, later claimed that they missed the message and stood against the Bill.
8. Those opposing the Budget needed a minimum of 15 members to ask for bloc voting but only 13 stood up and, to worsen the confusion, a few who stood up were told to sit down. The commentator opined that the Amanah MPs who stood up would have been heroes had they kept quiet about not receiving the message.
9. Immediately after Thursday’s debacle, PH MPs met at the Parliament and many told off their leaders. They have all lost their credibility, including UMNO MPs aligned to Ahmad Zahid as they too had declared war on the Budget.
10. Another commentator quipped: “This is Malay leadership!” adding that the one-week grace period Anwar asked to prove that he has the majority in Parliament could end up being another episode in the fantasy drama.
11. Most of the commentators do no believe the promise that the opposition MPs would fight all the way at the committee stage would amount to much. “It’s all bull****,” said one, adding that the Budget has been passed.
12. Anwar himself appears to be back paddling, judging from his latest claim that the government had conceded to the opposition’s demand by making many changes to the Budget.
13. Truth is the Anwar-led opposition has disappointed its supporters and party members. When previously they were against the kleptocratic Umno, now they are willing to work with its convicted leader and those facing multiple criminal charges in court.
14. In the end, said one commentator, it took a 95-year old man to stand up and to show leadership with strong moral values.
15. Personally, I had wished that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah would play a more decisive role than merely protesting the Budget and lamenting about the government’s lack of parliamentary legitimacy. Also, if Anwar had indeed told the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that he has the numbers, the Parliament is the best place to prove it.