Unity govt suits multiracial Malaysia, say pundits

Alfian Z.M. Tahir

Malaysians will see a new political landscape take shape following the recent developments after the general election. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 25, 2022.

A UNITY government, which was suggested by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is most suitable for the country to move forward, political pundits said.

They told The Malaysian Insight that Malaysia will soon see a new political landscape with the cooperation between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) including coalition parties from Sabah and Sarawak.

The political impasse ended after the Agong agreed to accept PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim as the country’s 10th prime minister.

The Conference of Rulers met yesterday morning in a special meeting at Istana Negara to discuss a solution to the political stalemate in forming a federal government after the general election.

A day before, the king had met with both Anwar and Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin to discuss the possibility of forming a unity government. Muhyiddin, however, rejected the suggestion as PN had decided not to work with PH.

Ilham Centre executive director, Hisommudin Bakar, said there was no other option for PH or BN to move away from the political turmoil other than accepting that they need to work hand in hand.

“At this juncture, no one has the majority. PH has to work with BN and BN has to accept the fact that they have lost badly.

“PN is out of the picture because they have been so adamant not to have any political cooperation with PH. Therefore, the best choice is a unity government between PH and BN.

“This is a new scenario for our country and we will see a new political landscape,” he said.

Agreeing with Hisommudin was Dr Mazlan Ali who said Malaysia is not ready to have a minority government system to run the country.

He said the unity government concept is most suitable in a multiracial country like Malaysia.

“If you look at Canada, they have a minority government functioning but that is Canada, a very well-developed country, but we are not on par with them.

“The unity government concept suits us very much under these circumstances. We had before the confidence and supply agreement (CSA) with Ismail Sabri Yaakob but that was not as solid as having a unity government.

“This concept can be easily understood by many, especially ordinary people. It can also avoid any unwanted incidents from happening,” said the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia academic.

In the general election, PH won 76 seats while its coalition member Sarawak DAP collected five and Muda, one, for a total of 82.

PN and PAS won 51 and 22 seats, respectively, for a combined total of 73. Barisan Nasional won 30 seats.

For almost a week PH and PN had been claiming to have the numbers to form a government. PH made the first move to meet with BN’s top brass on Tuesday but no agreement was reached.

BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was the subject of contention recently after he had sent a letter to the palace claiming to support Anwar as prime minister.

Political observers say the anti-BN, anti-DAP narrative will diminish in the future discourse will centre more about the Malay government institution versus multicultural Malaysia concept. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 25, 2022.

Unity govt can help PH/BN face PN in state elections

Meanwhile, both Hisommudin and Mazlan agreed that cooperation between the former enemies can help them win in the coming state elections.

Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Penang will hold polls in 2023.

Hisommudin said in the state elections, the country will see a contest between a pro-Malay government narrative against a multicultural government ideology.

“The anti-BN, anti-DAP narrative will vanish but we will hear more about the Malay government concept versus multicultural Malaysia concept.

“PN will use the narrative to win in Malay-majority seats as they did recently and PH plus BN will use a more moderate approach,” he said.

Mazlan believes BN made the right move in choosing PH as a partner, saying that the coalition will benefit more during the state elections.

“BN will get big benefits. They can work out an agreement with PH like how PH did with Muda. An electoral pact so that they don’t face each other in Malay-majority seats.

“Chinese voters in BN-held areas will back BN because PH will not contest. BN can slowly regain their support again after being washed away in the general election,” said Mazlan.

Unity government concept still unclear

Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya, on the other hand, questioned the concept of unity government, saying that it is still unclear.

He said Anwar, who has just been named as the country’s prime minister, must address this issue publicly so there would be no confusion.

“What is the meaning of this unity government? Will it focus on the unity among the parties involved? Will it include Sabah- and Sarawak-based parties too?

“On the surface it looks promising but how will it be implemented? Anwar has to answer this,” said the senior academic. – November 25, 2022.

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  • Unity government is only a temporary solution to control political instability like a 'cease fire' during war. It is a positive step to relook at the directions of the political parties and compromise for the sake of the nation's well being. In Malaysia, I hope this unity government will provide an atmosphere to relook at some of the things which cause problems in Malaysia.

    Posted 2 days ago by Citizen Pencen · Reply

  • Tun Mahathir wanted to establish a unity govt in feb20 to de-escalate racial tensions formented by PAS and UMNO.

    Only now, we are talking about it. Tun had the plan to co-opt professionals and NGOs to participate in such a unity govt. Perhaps Anwar can take a leaf from Tun's idea.

    Every one seem to forget that it was Tun Mahathir who should be credited with the idea.

    Posted 1 day ago by Super Duper · Reply

  • A unity govt stuffed with political operatives will be inherently unstable. The minsters and their political assistants will constantly be preoccupied with politics.

    Professional and activist will not have that baggage. Politicians should be concerned only with policy matters

    Posted 1 day ago by Super Duper · Reply