Start talks with the opposition, Bersih tells Ismail

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Electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 has called on incoming prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to initiate discussions with the opposition on institutional reforms.

Some of the reforms include limiting the prime minister’s term, implementing automatic voter registration and enacting the Political Financing Act, among others.

Ismail, they said, should learn from his predecessor’s failure to engage the opposition constructively.

Bersih said Ismail should discuss with the opposition its role in tackling the health and economic crises.

Agreements made through these discussions could be reflected in publicly-signed confidence and supply agreements (CSAs) that include a clear timeline for the reforms to be implemented before the next general election, it said.

At the same time, Bersih said the opposition bloc should “give serious consideration to any overtures by Ismail and enter into negotiations for CSAs” on major governance and institutional reforms.

If Pakatan Harapan is able to negotiate some of these reforms, it would have fulfilled some of the promises made in its last election manifesto, Bersih added.

“Ismail should also realise that his government won’t be stable and effective without the support and collaboration of the 13 state governments, only five of which are controlled by Umno,” it said in a statement.

His government, Bersih added, must break free from over-centralisation and share policymaking powers with the states.

“Decentralisation should be part of the CSAs.”

Bersih also reiterated its call for a vote of confidence to be moved in a special sitting of the Dewan Rakyat to affirm Ismail’s appointment as the ninth prime minister.

“This should take place before the third session of Parliament is prorogued on Aug 30.”

Ismail was named the country’s ninth prime minister this evening, succeeding Muhyiddin Yassin, who resigned from the post on Monday.

The Umno vice-president is expected to be sworn in tomorrow at 2.30pm. – FMT