Putrajaya’s dog & pony show

Dennis Ignatius

The country is once again awash with rumours of plots to topple the government. Powerful figures are said to be involved.

But what is really interesting is that some of the rumoured machinations are so implausible that one wonders what is really going on. Take the so-called “Dubai Move” to topple the government, for example. Currently PN can count on 69 MPs. To win a no-confidence motion against the prime minister (assuming the speaker will agree to it) or to convince the king that they have the numbers, they would need at least 43 members from the government side to jump ship.

While some MPs might be tempted if the price is right, getting 43 MPs to desert the government seems far-fetched especially as both the Borneo bloc and the DAP are solidly behind the prime minister.

Besides, how likely is it that the King – who fathered the unity government and who has repeatedly said the country needs political stability – would consent to going through the whole episode of counting SDs all over again? The whole thing is just too improbable to be believed.

Interestingly, while the government and its supporters are screaming bloody murder and happily lodging police reports about the Dubai Move a funny thing is happening – opposition MPs are jumping into Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s open arms.

And it gets even more bizarre; police are now investigating an apparent move by Perikatan Nasional to offer the King himself a RM1 billion bribe to change the government. Some are suggesting that Mahathir is somehow involved too. Mahathir is many things but he’s not that stupid to try to bribe the King especially given the intense loathing many royals have for him. It just doesn’t add up.

Then there’s that well-publicised move against “Mr Diam” himself. Ostensibly, part of Anwar’s promise to root out corruption in the country, it is looking more and more like an all-out campaign to intimidate the opposition. There are, after all, tons of corrupt politicians, cronies and proxies in the country; when opposition politicians are targeted while government supporters get DNAAs, it’s hard not to conclude that it’s all a political stunt.

But Putrajaya’s dog and pony show raises an intriguing question: why is the government playing up the Dubai Move? Is all this drama an attempt to distract attention from the government’s less than stellar performance after over a year in office? Or is it the prelude to something more sinister – like Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi’s proposal to amend the constitution to ensure that once elected the government cannot be challenged until it completes its term?

Some may think it’s a good idea but tampering with our constitutional democracy this way just opens the whole system to further abuse. Let the King deal with the issue of SDs should they arise but let the prime minister always be subject to the confidence of the house.

In the meantime, with a very solid majority in parliament, the government shouldn’t panic every time the Lalang moves; it should stop all the histrionics and just get on with the job it was elected to do.