Muhyiddin Yassin’s warning that Perikatan Nasional (PN) will pull its support for Ismail Sabri Yaakob as prime minister if he includes those facing criminal trials in his cabinet was ironic given that the former prime minister himself is known to have worked with kleptocrats, civil society groups said.
“It is ironic for Muhyiddin to try and claim the moral high ground that he wouldn’t work with kleptocrats when it were he and his party who caused the collapse of PH by forming a new coalition with them (kleptocrats),” said electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann.
Fann said Muhyddin’s power grab and his subsequent fall from grace has now paved the way for those who were voted out by the people in the last general election to form a new government.
“His own fall from grace has further betrayed the people who voted him and PH into power in 2018 by rejecting BN and Umno if Ismail Sabri is confirmed as PM9 (ninth prime minister).
“His betrayal has ushered in the very party rejected by voters in GE14 and undermined people’s trust in our political system,” he said.
Earlier today, Muhyiddin, who is the PN chairman, said this was the condition outlined by the pact before its 50 Members of Parliament submitted their statutory declarations (SD) in favour of the Umno vice-president for the prime minister’s post.
The former prime minister said PN, which is a coalition of Bersatu (31 MPs), PAS (18) and STAR (one), had unanimously agreed to support Ismail Sabri to become the prime minister so that the previous government’s policies in battling the Covid-19 pandemic and restoring the economy could be continued.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy also agreed with Fann that it was ironic that Muhyiddin was setting this condition given that he did not seem to mind having the support of kleptocrats and those who are facing corruption charges, to remain as prime minister.
“It is indeed ironic that the caretaker PM is stressing now that the incoming government must be composed of those that he deemed clean when it is clear his majority was initially propped up by those he now declared as kleptocrats,” Sevan said.
Sevan said Muhyiddin is only now taking issues with these individuals because Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and 14 other Umno lawmakers decided to withdraw support for him, leading to his resignation.
He added that in Muhyiddin’s 17 months as prime minister, there were instances where corruption charges against lawmakers were dropped or withdrawn.
“Charges against former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman and Putrajaya MP Tengku Adnan Mansor were either dropped or withdrawn from courts while there are still pending corruption investigations against Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman and Kuala Langat MP Xavier Jayakumar.
“These people are certainly far from clean and free from corruption allegations, yet they were retained and supported when Muhyiddin was in power.”
He, however, cautioned that Ismail Sabri, if indeed is chosen to be the next prime minister, cannot wholly discount Muhyiddin’s threat to withdraw his support.
“Muhyiddin from his recent statement still solidly retains the support of 50 MPs. It is a demand that Ismail Sabri and Umno cannot ignore and most probably concede to if Ismail Sabri wished to form a government that enjoys the confidence of the house.”
Meanwhile, political analyst Oh Ei Sun said Muhyiddin is merely asking Ismail Sabri of the same expectations he had set for himself when he became prime minister, to not include members of the court cluster, Umno lawmakers facing criminal charges, in the cabinet.
“Muhyiddin did not include those from the court cluster in his cabinet, so he is similarly not expecting Ismail Sabri to appoint them.
“You can fault Muhyiddin for including the court cluster as part of his ruling coalition in the sense that they are backbenchers, but he did not include them in the cabinet,” Oh said.
“He’s telling Ismail Sabri not to include them in the cabinet, but he didn’t tell him not to include them in the backbenchers in the ruling coalition,” Oh added. – TMI