Sunday, November 29, 2020

Will DAP and PKR regain their loss support, after they decided not to have a vote count? After all their MPs listened to Anwar's order?

DAP, PKR and Anwar Ibrahim may have lost the confidence of the 'Rakyat'(People) after Budget 2021 was passed after the first reading. What the people wanted was to know for sure HOW MANY MPs really support the Budget tabled by PM Muhyiddin Yassin and his government? There was an effort by some MPs to determine the exact number of votes - and MP Mahfuz made a motion for this - and such a count of votes would have been done if 15 or more MPs supported the said Motion - but alas, only 13 supported - and this was shocking. DAP alone had far more than 15 MPs, and the same with PKR - BUT they did not support the motion for the actual count of votes that will show how many supported the BUDGET, how many opposed and how many abstained. Why did they do this? Because Anwar asked them to do this...a lame excuse to deny TRANPARENCY.

Now, over the week we read about the many 'wrongs' in this Budget - and then save for the party Amanah MPs, the DAP and PKR MPs seem to have approved the Budget - or they simply did not want Malaysians to know the actual vote count. WHY? 

When BN came back into power and government, following the formation of Perikatan Nasional, many Malaysians felt betrayed by many of the Opposition MPs - i.e. those who agreed to jump ship and join BN and oust the PH Plus government ...this included Muhyiddin and his BERSATU MPs, and Azmin and about 11 PKR MPs.. At the end of the day, sees the BN as the biggest partner with the largest number of MPs.

Then, of late, Anwar came out proclaiming that he had the confidence of a 'substantive' number of MPs, sufficient to maybe show that Muhyiddin had lost the confidence of the majority and had to resign as PM ...which may have led to Anwar finally becoming the Prime Minister..

HOPE returned ... but then Anwar did not even disclose the list of MPs, and finally it all ended with nought when the King failed to 'confirm' the 'declaration' of Anwar..

Then, there were other ways to show that PM Muhyiddin had lost the support of the majority - and now, they supported Anwar or some other to be next Prime Minister..They that support Anwar could have gone public on TV and say they have lost confidence in Muhyiddin - so many other ways...but nothing happened.

Then, there was the string of 'No Confidence' motions submitted to Parliament - some even from MPs that currently are part of PN. Then, the Speaker says that matters of the government will be the priority ...and the chances of this 'No Confidence Motions' being debated and voted on was very slim...

Now, there was another option - if a major Bill or a Financial Bill, like the BUDGET 2021 fails to be passed - that would be indicative that the current Prime Minister no longer have the support of the majority and will have to resign..

That was HOW CRUCIAL the vote on the Budget would have been? A vote count would have been crucial - Even if the Budget gets passed at the first reading by majority - but the number of objections and/or abstention was significant > it demonstrated a possible loss of confidence in the sitting Prime Minister...

So, when Anwar 'instructed' the PH parties - and not insist on a vote count, it was very significant? It was not simply just a LOST OPPORTUNITY - but also an affirmation of Muhyiddin as the still valid Prime Minister...and we do not even know whether his support remains the same, grown or shrunk >>>Because we just do not know how many exactly supported...

Next step - well, certain portions of the BUDGET may fail to pass  - but the rest of the BUDGET 2021 will pass, I guess. So just like any Bill for an Act of Parliament, certain portions that may not get the needed support may be removed, or amended...Hence, at the end of the day the PN Budget is most likely to be passed.

What is happening? Does Muhyiddin still enjoy the confidence of the majority of MPs - MAYBE no more, but then Anwar too may not enjoy the confidence of the majority. Mahathir may if PH decides to support him, or maybe there will be some other person who may enjoy the confidence of the majority.

TIME FOR ANWAR to give up on his personal desire to be PRIME MINISTER - and let another person be given the chance, so the will of the people expressed during GE14 to oust the UMNO-BN from government be a reality again...It is time to focus on WILL of the people - and for the good of Malaysia, and put aside personal aspiration for positions..

The WILL OF THE PEOPLE - well, for that we need to go back to the Election Manifesto that made PH Plus government. YES, we are all disappointed that the 'promises' made many were not kept - JANJI TIDAK DITEPATI.. but if PH Plus gets back power, this must happen very very fast...

After DAP, PKR, Mat Sabu and another chose not to allow the vote to be counted, when if only 2 MPs stood up - we will know for sure how many support, object or abstained from the vote...Other Amanah MPs stood up...

Anwar should really resign as Opposition leader immediately, and be no longer the end of PH - time for a 'new face' to lead the Opposition...Guan Eng and Kit Siang must explain why they did not want the vote to be counted?

ALL in all, it is a MESS.

All votes in Parliament must not just be counted, but we deserve to know how each individual MP voted. MPs should vote based on conscience and principles, and party or Opposition leaders should stop ordering MPs how to vote...RESTORE FREEDOM OF CHOICE TO EACH AND EVERY MP - Let us be a true democracy, where MP matters - where people can lobby MPs to influence their votes in parliament..

ABSURD if Anwar orders - and all PKR and DAP MPs follow blindly ...Absurd if party leaders order, and MPs from that party have no choice but to follow the orders. Is that why our MPs do not attend Parliament or are disinterested in the matters being debated in Parliament...Is it all because they have NO CHOICE on how to vote - because at the end of the day, they MUST vote according to what Anwar or their party leaders say/'orders'?




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COMMENT | Why must parliamentarians vote in the House?

Wong Chin Huat

Modified 27 Nov 2020, 5:32 pm

COMMENT | I am appalled that Malaysia’s strongest ever opposition bench – 108 out of 220 now – failed to vote on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Budget 2021 yesterday because only 13 MPs stood up to demand a formal vote, termed “division”, less than the threshold of 15.

I am more appalled that some MPs later claimed that they voted “nay” to the budget in the “voice vote”, thinking the public are fools who do not understand that a voice vote is basically a ritual.

The issue is, however, larger than a failing parliamentary opposition leader who has failed to form a shadow cabinet and table a shadow budget because he has been too busy with getting the numbers to become prime minister.

The issue is that a shared cynicism in our political class – on both sides of the divide – that treat Parliament as merely the electoral college of the prime minister and cannot take voting in the House seriously.

American lawmakers vote even when in agreement

Our Parliament’s flaw is most obvious when compared with the US Congress.

US vice-president-elect Kamala Harris is a sitting senator before she takes up her new job (and thus, also president of the Senate) on Jan 20, 2021. She was picked by president-elect Joe Biden as his running mate on Aug 11.

Kamala Harris

Beginning August, she was presumably absent in the Senate most of the time because she had voted only twice, one of which was against Amy Coney Barrett’s justiceship. In July when the Senate had 25 voting decisions across 11 days, Harris, however, had an active record: “nay” 19, “yea” five and not-voting two.

Am I a fan or a stalker of Harris? No. Her voting record is here on the Senate’s website. You can find voting records for both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

US lawmakers do not vote only when they disagree. They vote also when they agree. Some bills are passed without objection - Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (Taipei) Act of 2019 was passed with 415 votes for, zero votes against, and 14 not-voting. 

US lawmakers even provide explanations for their missed votes. Representative Nick J Rahall II said this after missing three votes in 2011: “This flight delay prevented me from carrying out my Constitutional duty to represent the people of southern West Virginia. I feel I owe them and this body an explanation about why that was not possible last night.” 

Members of the US lower house can even put in the congressional record how they would have voted even though stating their intention does not change the outcome.

Why are US lawmakers so serious about voting, even if their votes do not change the outcomes?

Accountability. US lawmakers want to be accountable as decision-makers, to be a party for an agreeable decision, and to be a party against a disagreeable decision.

They care because their voters care. American politicians get questioned by opponents in elections for the key decisions they missed. If unjustified, they may get punished by voters.

Why can't lawmakers care less?

Would Budget 2021 be passed without a division vote on the second reading on Nov 26 if the opposition leaders and parliamentarians knew the backlash they would face?

Clearly no. Anwar told his parliamentary colleagues not to go for a division and those parliamentarians who followed his instructions did so because they did not expect Malaysians to understand and take seriously legislative politics like Americans do. They thought we were dumb.

Parliamentarians, please stop telling us that you voted “nay” with your voice, when voice vote is a ritual for “aye”. When the speaker can judge by the loudness of voice whether the majority goes for “aye” or “nay”, the majority is supposedly a foregone conclusion.

When the majority is in question, a division vote is needed, that’s why your 13 colleagues stood up. If you don’t even understand this voting procedure, please consider retirement after this term.

But what were the motivations that dissuaded Anwar from going for a division?

Anwar told us that he did not want the opposition to be seen as blocking concessions made by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz which benefited frontliners, farmers and fisherfolk. 

Let me add another point, the opposition would also be accused of defying the King’s advice. Posters attacking Amanah and Pejuang were out soon after the failed attempt for a division.

However, if Anwar had “the numbers” he has been talking about, would he not go for a division?

Was Anwar also concerned that the opposition’s “no” votes would be less than 108 as one East Malaysian parliamentarian was apparently absent and some others may abstain, hence showing a shrinking number further away from 112?

The budget is both an end in itself and a means to sustain or sack a government.

If Anwar’s primary concern is about breaking Muhyiddin’s government, then it may make some strategic sense to postpone the showdown, perhaps to wait for the Umno defection repetitively promised to and by Anwar to finally happen.

However, allowing the budget to pass at the second reading without any recorded objection means the budget was merely an instrument, and whatever critiques the opposition had made on the budget may be abandoned.

If Anwar and the opposition were serious about fixing the flaws in the budget as much as changing the government, then a vote of division was absolutely necessary. 

If the opposition did not want to vote "nay", then they must at least abstain to leave Muhyiddin with only 111 “yes” votes (excluding Umno's Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah).

Did the opposition not think through all scenarios? Should one expect Zafrul to not make concessions in his concluding speech? Why wasn’t there coordination?

Why is a 108-member opposition bench in such a mess?

Why no shadow budget?

This budget breaks a tradition on the opposition’s side: No shadow budget.

Starting in 2011, Pakatan Rakyat launched a shadow budget for 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015

This was continued by Pakatan Harapan for 2016, 2017 and 2018. This was even continued by BN through Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin for 2019 but stopped for this year.

Had there been a well-planned shadow budget, would it be difficult for Harapan to vote down Muhyiddin’s budget without the accusation of sabotage?

And if Pakatan Rakyat and Harapan could produce shadow budgets for seven consecutive years before coming into power, why did it fail to produce one for 2020 after 22 months in government?

The shadow budget 2020 could have been rigorously produced by the Harapan/Harapan Plus shadow cabinet, regrouping its former frontbenchers and talents.

This did not happen because Anwar – earlier former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal too – is too busy getting the “numbers” to form a new government. 

Having a shadow cabinet inconveniences the courting of government MPs because the prime minister wannabe cannot promise the stars and moon to the future lineup.

Is Anwar fit as parliamentary opposition leader?

Let us all be clear. The budget vote fiasco on Nov 26 was not just a tactical misstep.

It is symptomatic of the cynicism in our political class – the opposition bench included - who sees Parliament as nothing more than a stepping-stone for executive power.

Let’s be honest. No way can Harapan's mandate by a 47 percent plurality in 2018 be restored. Whether under Muhyiddin, Anwar or anyone else, the government would be a post-coalition government with some Harapan and some non-Harapan elements.

This crude reality takes away the moral high ground of removing Muhyiddin’s backdoor government. What makes one post-coalition government superior to the other is the quality of their programmes and endurance.

If Anwar can gather a coalition to take over as prime minister, he deserves to be one. And defeating a flawed budget is a perfectly legitimate means.

However, Anwar’s eagerness to become the premier must not cause him to fail as the parliamentary opposition leader. His obsession with numbers must not derail the opposition from effective policy competition.

The Nov 26 fiasco can be traced back fundamentally to the absence of a shadow cabinet. As a redemption, Anwar should form a functioning shadow cabinet before 2020 ends.

Otherwise, Anwar should just stand down as the parliamentary opposition leader. Let another MP who is capable of forming a shadow cabinet do the job. 

Malaysians deserve better. The year 2021 should not be a replay of 2020. Hear us, Anwar.

WONG CHIN HUAT is an Essex-trained political scientist working on political institutions and group conflicts. He currently leads the clusters on the electoral system and constituency delimitation in the government’s Electoral Reform Committee (ERC). Mindful of humans’ self-interest motivation while pursuing a better world, he is a principled opportunist. - Malaysiakini, 27/11/2020



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