On 5th June, I wrote a posting about the anti-corruption and Parliamentary reforms we need to carry out, if we are given the chance to get back to power. This is more or less a companion piece to that earlier posting.
I have just finished a longish interview with a reporter. She asked my views on the latest political developments, and she kept asking about the question on the PH Plus candidate for the prime minister post. In fact, many political pundits have been asking the very same question for a week or so.
I personally think the issue of candidacy to be an unsettling moot issue, simply because currently, we don’t have the numbers to form a government. But for sake of providing some answers to the pundits reading this, let me run through some of my thoughts on the matter.
At the Pakatan Harapan level, with 91 MPs remaining, the candidate for PM from PH is clearly Anwar. After all, he is the current Chairman of PH and the Opposition Leader in Parliament. At the “PH Plus” level, the total number of MPs is enlarged from 91 to 107.
I personally view the prospect of Tun Mahathir coming back to lead PH Plus, to be an overall negative rather than a positive. He has already had two bites at the job. Despite the great hope of the people after GE14, his administration did not deliver fundamental systemic reforms.
If we do manage to take over from the current government, and that is a big if, we will need a fresh start. The new leader should be genuinely committed to anti-corruption and Parliamentary reforms. The new leader will also need the stamina to hit the ground running, to help kick start and energise the economy. Energising the economy will require policies to decisively break crony capitalism, introduce more economic equality to the people and inspire creativity and hard work.
Having said all the above, the bottomline reality has not changed. We are currently in no position to form a government with 107 MPs. We need a minimum of 112 MPs to cross the 50% threshold.
This brings to the question what numbers do PN actually have? The answer will only be truly tested when Parliament sits in July and August. If the infightings in PN intensifies, and a major party pulls out, the PN government will topple. An incoming government will then need to demonstrate that it can be relatively stable, failing which, we will likely face a snap general election.
The reality of Malaysian politics is such that we will likely face unstable governments for some time to come. With no anti-hopping laws in place, and the practice of party hopping seen as an acceptable political tool by politicians, any government will be susceptible to the demands of a small handful of MPs.
My reading on the ground remains the same, people are tired of politics and more worried about the economy. This political episode on the choice of candidate, will be an exercise for people to judge for themselves if politicians are principled and genuine, or are merely self serving.
Lastly, if we don’t have the numbers to take over, we will face great challenges. This government so far has not been operating transparently with accountability. They are also failing to address corruption, in fact on this front, we are clearly regressing. So what can we do? If we don’t have the numbers, then we must focus on being an effective Opposition.
If we can successfully check abuses of power and corruption and provide sound alternative policies, then hopefully, we will be able to win back the hearts and minds of the same people who supported us in GE14.