Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has cautioned the government to pull up its socks and honour its commitment to institutional reform if it wants Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) support.
In an interview with Singapore’s Strait Times published today, Anwar said the coalition’s support is not guaranteed even after it signed the historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob last month as there still are many “contentious issues”.
He said the MoU had led to several good things for Malaysia, such as the agreement on parliamentary reforms as well as implementing Undi18 but asserted that these were PH’s initiatives from when the coalition was the government.
“Of course, there are more contentious issues, such as the anti-hopping law, that’s not happened, or general reform; the way they handled Melaka; the way they respond to the Pandora Papers…so this is not a reformed government.
“The government is not committed to reform,” he said in the interview.
Anwar noted that the government has been dragging its feet on tabling legislation to prevent lawmakers from changing parties mid-stream out for personal interests.
The Melaka issue referred to the political infighting within the government that resulted in the withdrawal of support of four lawmakers, forcing the dissolution of the state assembly, which paves the way for a state-wide election that few have the stomach for while Covid-19 cases still number in the thousands.
Anwar was also vexed that his application to debate the Pandora Papers — the leaked documents detailing the offshore bank accounts owned by key global figures, including Malaysian politicians — in Parliament has been rejected outright despite the possibility that they may be illicit outflows that could hurt the country’s financial standing, after the 1MDB scandal.
Asked about PH’s stand on whether it will support the government’s Budget 2022 that is scheduled to be tabled in Parliament later this month, Anwar said discussions are ongoing between PH’s representatives and Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.
The Opposition wants direct financial assistance to be given to the rural and urban poor as part of a RM45 billion package as well as a moratorium on the small business owners in the Budget.
“Assuming all these basic issues had been addressed, we will certainly be able to support, but it is certainly at this stage, it is a bit premature to suggest that all these points could be addressed.
“This is unprecedented in this country,” Anwar told the Singapore paper.
Malay Mail understands that several PH leaders have expressed their disappointment with the “slowness of the reforms” promised by the prime minister in the MoU.
A PKR insider who spoke on condition of anonymity said that PH had already discussed a timeline for the government to implement the so-called reform as stated in the MoU.
According to sources, PH had told the government it wants to see the agreed upon reforms initiated in the first quarter of next year and before the 15th General Election.
“What is the use of agreeing to the reform and getting support if the government did not want to commit to it,” a PKR leader told Malay Mail on condition of anonymity.
Another PH source said the reforms listed in the MoU could be used as a political weapon especially if it is not implemented before the next election.
“We know the ministers, leaders who are in the government now are almost the same as before.
“We know that they like to take credit if the reform is implemented and if they are not, they will use the reform to betray the Opposition, especially using them as political points for the next election,” the source from DAP told Malay Mail. – MMO