Muda’s new alignment a positive move for unity govt, says Ong Kian Ming

The decision by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the Member of Parliament for Muar, to choose not to align with the unity government nor with the Perikatan Nasional (PN) opposition block, should be seen in a positive light from the perspective of the unity government for the following reasons.

Professor Dr Ong Kian Ming

Firstly, with the loss of the two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat after the departure of Syed Saddiq, the unity government will no longer be held hostage by one or two individuals for the passage of any constitutional amendments — such as the proposed amendments to Part II of the Federal Constitution regarding citizenship matters, or changing the number of parliamentary seats arising from a delimitation exercise. I am referring not just to Syed Saddiq, but also to the two MPs from MCA, to the one MP from MIC, and to the MPs from smaller parties in Sabah and Sarawak, who may want to extract certain concessions from the prime minister in exchange for supporting these constitutional amendments.

Instead, the unity government would have to seek broad-based consensus from all parties from within the unity government as well as from the PN coalition on matters such as the delimitation exercise, which begins in 2026. Even though some leaders in PN asked voters in Pulai to deny the two-thirds majority to the unity government to stop the creation of more parliamentary seats in the delimitation exercise, in reality, PAS and, to a lesser extent, Bersatu leaders also would not mind seeing an increase in the number of parliamentary seats in Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, which have not seen any parliament seat increases since 1995.

Secondly, the loss of the two-thirds majority may open the door for the unity government to sign some sort of memorandum of understanding with the opposition, which includes supporting certain government bills, including a Political Financing Act, which would institutionalise equal constituency allocation for government as well as opposition MPs. This could be a gesture of good faith, resulting in the opposition no longer making any more calls to replace the government through non-electoral means, and also setting the pathway towards more substantive reforms which are supported by both sides of the aisle, including the above-mentioned constitutional changes.

Thirdly, Muda’s new alignment would stop questions on why Syed Saddiq was attacking the government over certain decisions when he was ostensibly supporting the government in Parliament. Now that the political lines have been drawn, this would also mean that DAP would no longer have to support Muda in the manner that we supported Syed Saddiq in Muar during the 15th general election campaign, and in the Puteri Wangsa state seat during the Johor state election in January 2022.

I wish Syed Saddiq and Muda all the best in their efforts to be a third force in Malaysian politics. I hope that he and his colleagues in Muda can play their part in coming up with credible and substantive policies on how to improve government and governing processes at the local, state, and federal levels.