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Anwar Ibrahim calls for bipartisan effort in upcoming Malaysia budget to implement strategies against COVID-19

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has called for a bipartisan effort for the 2021 budget, which is due to be presented in the Malaysian parliament next week.

“It (the budget) should encompass the efforts and roles of government and opposition in devising potent strategies to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment and also poverty issues,” Mr Anwar said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 27).

He said he had taken note of the most recent political developments in the country, adding that the Malay rulers’ reminder and admonishment regarding abuse of power and principles of justice should not be taken lightly. 

“Instead it should be supported by all  parties who have the awareness and exactitude to reject decay,” he noted. 

He added that his party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) would continue to fight for the reformation agenda, revolving on the principles of justice and welfare for all Malaysians.

“We are ready to work with any politicians who crave an order free from corruption and abuse of power while upholding politics of values,” he said. 

On Oct 13, Mr Anwar claimed that he had a convincing majority to take over the government. 

There was speculation that some lawmakers from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) were prepared to work with Mr Anwar. UMNO politicians had previously agitated for a more favourable redistribution of government positions for the party’s MPs,

Last week, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin asked Malaysian King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to declare a state of emergency amid the COVID-19 crisis and political instability, which would have seen the upcoming parliamentary meeting suspended. 

This was rejected by the king after he consulted the Malay Rulers’ Council on Sunday.

On Monday night, UMNO said that it will maintain its support for Mr Muhyiddin’s government. 

On Tuesday, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) also pledged “undivided loyalty” for the prime minister’s leadership.

ACCEPT THAT MALAYSIAN DEMOCRACY WILL BE “50:50”: SENATOR

Senator Liew Chin Tong, who is a member of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), also said it was time for all Malaysia’s political leaders and people to accept that Malaysia’s voting results would remain a “50:50” democracy for a long time,  and the 50 per cent on the losing side had to feel fairly treated.

Mr Liew pointed to only three instances in Malaysia’s electoral history, where the Barisan Nasional coalition had won more than 60 per cent of the popular vote.

“But the-then ruling party ruled as if it garnered 95 per cent of the votes thanks to a gerrymandered and twisted electoral system that favoured BN,” Mr Liew said in a blog post.

Liew Chin Tong of Democratic Action Party

Democratic Action Party’s Liew Chin Tong. (Photo: Justin Ong)

In addition, Mr Liew stated that Malaysia’s days of prime minister as a dictator was over, and that no party could rule without coalition partners of similar strength.

“The role of the Prime Minister is not to dominate over his coalition partners, but to cobble together a coalition that can last him for the full term and hold them tightly without them feeling disenchanted,” he said.

READ: Malaysian king rejects state of emergency proposal – What this means for the upcoming budget debate

Pointing to distrust and mistakes made by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and Mr Anwar when Pakatan Harapan was the ruling coalition, the DAP senator said Mr Muhyiddin is making the same mistakes at a much faster pace,  which led to UMNO’s dissatisfaction and the recent political turmoil.

“UMNO’s ceasefire with Muhyiddin won’t last if Muhyiddin still acts as if he is a Prime Minister which controls two-thirds of the seats the (ruling) coalition has,” Mr Liew noted.


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