Analyst sees a trap for opposition in PM’s offer
Even the advice by health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah not to remove general practitioners from the national vaccination programme had not been followed. “He is a prominent figure and his guidance was overruled. What more if the suggestions are from the opposition”
(FMT) – Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has laid out a “clever and cunning” trap for the opposition by inviting them to join the National Recovery Council and Covid-19 special committee, according to a political analyst.
Oh Ei Sun, a fellow with the Singapore Institute of International Studies, said it was “a bad idea to join in” as the council and the committee are secondary institutions and not top decision-making and policymaking bodies of the government.
“They are under the Cabinet but not part of the Cabinet,” he said, and suggestions from the opposition may not be adopted.
He said even the advice by health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah not to remove general practitioners from the national vaccination programme had not been followed. “He is a prominent figure and his guidance was overruled. What more if the suggestions are from the opposition,” Oh added.
Opposition members would also be sworn to secrecy and no one would know their recommendations were not adopted. “If the government fails, the opposition will be tainted by association,” he said.
Ismail’s offer of cross-party cooperation was made in his inaugural address as prime minister on Aug 22. Oh said the offer did not amount to the formation of a unity government but was a way of saying “I offered them to join but they do not have the national spirit. It is clever and cunning bait.”
Socio-political analyst Awang Azman Pawi advised Pakatan Harapan to be cautious as it may tarnish their image if the government fails to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said they need to look at their role in the council and committee. “If they are going to be ordinary members without any decision-making powers, they may be trapped if things go wrong,” he told FMT.
Awang Azman further advised them to ensure they play an active role and are given the same role as government members to manage Covid-19. “They should know the level of involvement and the repercussions first before making a decision,” he added.
But academician Azmi Hassan is of a different view. He said it is a good idea for Ismail to offer an olive branch to the opposition to deal with the health crisis. “If they don’t accept it, it may not be good for the opposition as they have been wanting to solve the crisis.”
He said Ismail is seen as a hands-on man and is likely to go to the ground, unlike former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin who depended on his advisors.
“No one knows if this government will be doomed or not. With Ismail being hands on, the ground perception will be good,” he said, adding that it may be a good idea for the opposition to join hands.
But Azmi said those in the council or the committee should not be regarded as representing the opposition or the government. “Decisions should be made based on the majority,” he added.