Last-ditch offer to the opposition for bipartisan support ahead of impending confidence vote in Parliament.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has proposed a seven-point cross-party framework for bipartisan cooperation that will be implemented by the government following the passing of the vote of confidence.
Proposals for cross-party bipartisan cooperation:
- Equal allocations for all MPs
- Bi-partisan consultation for supply (budget) bills
- Two-term limit for PM, anti-party hopping laws
- Half of select committees to be headed by opposition
- Implementation of Undi 18
- Opposition leader to enjoy retirement benefits and privileges similar to those of a senior minister
He said the first was that from now on all members of parliament from all parties would get equal allocations so that more assistance could be given to the people.
Secondly, he said, was in accordance with the whole-of-government and the whole-of-society approach involving the finance minister who had held engagement sessions with various groups, including opposition parties to gather their input and suggestions to improve the National Recovery Plan.
“Based on the suggestions received, the government will also present a proposal in Parliament to raise the ceiling value for the Covid-19 Fund from RM65 billion to RM110 billion.
Muhyiddin said the government would also disburse funds worth RM10 billion to 11 million recipients in the second half of 2021.
“The cash aids will continue in 2022, not only for the B40 income group and also in the form of targeted assistance for the hardcore poor, urban poor and those from M40 income group who have lost their jobs.”
He also promised to consult with opposition parties before the national budget is prepared.
Thirdly, if the government secures a two-third majority in Parliament, Muhyiddin said a new bill would be proposed to set a two-term limit for the prime minister post, as well as a bill on anti-party hopping laws.
The fourth, he said, would bolster parliamentary reforms by ensuring that special select committees have a more balanced representation of government and opposition MPs.
“The number of special select committees can also be increased so that all MPs can play a more effective check-and-balance role through their participation in these committees.”
As an acknowledgment of the importance of their check-and-balance role, Muhyiddin said 50 percent of special select committees will be chaired by government MPs while the other half will be chaired by opposition MPs.
“The government will also provide support staff and reasonable retirement benefits for all chairmen of the special select committees,” he said.
For the fifth, Muhyiddin said the government had agreed to implement the lowering of voting age to 18 (Undi 18) without waiting for the automatic voter registration process, if he manages to secure bipartisan support.
Sixth, he said the government would only table a Supply Bill in Parliament after garnering a majority support from the MPs.
The seventh proposal would involve retirement benefits and privileges to the opposition leader similar to those of a senior minister, in recognition of the opposition’s role in the Dewan Rakyat that has almost equal number of representatives as the government.
Prevent kleptocrats taking over
“The reason I have made such offers to the opposition is to ensure the government will function as usual during the pandemic with bipartisan support in Parliament.
“I cannot allow the kleptocrats to govern during this time,” said the beleaguered prime minister during a last-minute national address on live television this evening.
“As such, I am inviting all the political party leaders to discuss my proposals next week. I will issue the official invitation to all party leaders and I’m prepared to listen to everyone’s views,” said the 74-year-old.
He said the government will call for a special Dewan Rakyat sitting to table a confidence vote for the prime minister if the opposition agrees to work with the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
Muhyiddin was most likely referring to the Umno MPs such as Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who retracted their support, as they are currently facing corruption charges in court.
General election by July 2022
Muhyiddin said that he will call a general election once the Covid-19 pandemic is under control, as he had no desire to hold on to power.
“I do not wish to hold on to power. In this situation, it is wise to return the mandate to the hands of the public to pick their own government.
“Based on the current pandemic situation, I will call a general election by the end of July next year,” he said.
Not resigning as no MPs have majority support
Muhyiddin said he had chosen not to resign as no other MPs can prove they have majority support either.
“If I resign today, it’s not only me but the whole cabinet that has to resign too. This means that the PN government will fall.
“I think no other MP has the majority hence no prime minister can be appointed according to the federal constitution. If there is no PM, it means there is no cabinet and no government.
“What will happen in such a situation?” asked Muhyiddin, who was flanked during the telecast by ministers Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, Mohamed Azmin Ali, Dr Radzi Jidin, Hamzah Zainudin, Dr Wee Ka Siong, M Saravanan, Hishammuddin Hussein, Fazilah Yusof, and Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.
Muhyiddin asked how would government policies be carried without a government.
“Which government will ensure the vaccination programme can be carried out effectively and on schedule when we are just two months away from achieving herd immunity?
“If the political crisis interrupts this process and a new government cannot be formed, our target of herd immunity will not be achieved and more lives will be endangered,” he added.
Muhyiddin was explaining why he had not resigned as prime minister despite having lost majority support, and why he was now inviting the opposition to support him instead.
“This will enable PN to continue to manage the pandemic until such a suitable time an election can be held. The confidence vote can be passed with bipartisan support in Dewan Rakyat,” he said.
Muhyiddin also said a government with bipartisan support will be more stable and inclusive.
“This will enable opposition parties to play a check and balance role more effectively as political stability is very important for us to combat the pandemic and restore the country.
“When we are unable to stabilise national politics to aid the recovery process, it is the people who will bear the misery and burden.
“The losers are the people and our country.”