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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Agung's Stunning Inability To Learn From Recent Experiences

 Agung’s Stunning Inability To Learn From Recent Experiences

M. Bakri Musa


Here we go again! In this latest go around in choosing the Prime Minister following the recent 15th General Election, the Agung has again demonstrated his utter inability to learn from the experiences of only just a few years ago. As then, he is again today reduced to being the old school headmaster and his errand school kids, summoning newly-elected MPs to the palace with their statutory declarations in hand.


            Those earlier maneuvers had resulted in Malaysia having three failed Prime Ministers (Mahathir, Muhyiddin, and Ismail Sabri) and a Parliament that shuttered its doors half a year earlier, forcing an election upon citizens during the treacherous monsoon season.


            There is only one thing worse than not being able to solve a problem, and that is to add or complicate it. This is what the Agung has done by not letting Anwar have the first bite at forming the new government. There are severe consequences to that decision.


            The Agung’s current action has caused the nation to be held in ransom by conniving politicians jockeying for positions. The Agung has also yet to learn that it is never smart to have a “no-action” caretaker government, more so when Malaysia is facing severe economic problems and the Covid-19 pandemic still not under control. The continuing decline of the ringgit is only one and very visible manifestation of the former.


            Worse, and an unquantifiable as well as unnecessary risk is that this dallying by the Agung has unleashed a torrent of ugly vicious racist sentiments that rival those seen in the aftermath of the 1969 elections. Perhaps the Agung, just age ten then and cocooned in his parents palace in Pahang, does not remember that dark period of Malaysian history. 


            The solution to the current electoral dilemma is as simple as it is obvious. When no political entity has won a clear majority, as with this recent election, the most sensible route would be to let the one entity that has garnered the most seats be given the opportunity at forming the government. Then it would be for the new Parliament whether to reaffirm or reject that decision, and then take it from there.


            Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan coalition won both the highest number of Parliamentary seats as well as garnered the highest proportion of the popular votes. Eighty-two seats and 37 percent respectively, to Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional 73 and 30 percent. Not even close. The decision should have been a no-brainer. One does not need to be a constitutional lawyer or pay undue deference to Westminster practices to adopt that. It is plain common sense. Simple logic also dictates that.


            Had that been done last Sunday, Malaysia would today have a functioning government ready to begin tackling the many pressing problems. If any politician were to be stupid enough to call for a vote of no confidence on Anwar and thus force another election so soon, then he and his party must be prepared to face the wrath of voters. Do so and risk you and your party suffering the fate of Mahathir and his party. Mahathir was far more popular in his time than either Muhyiddin or Ismail Sabri put together.


            Instead of taking this most logical as well as this common sense step, the Agung wanted to be in the center of things. He is not satisfied in being the King, he wants to be the kingmaker too. He is hungry for national attention instead of being satisfied to discreetly stay behind the scenes. Let the politicians battle it out where it should be, in Parliament, not the Agung at the Palace.


            Who should be Prime Minister is the choice of the rakyat, and only them, not the Agung’s.


            Had the Agung sworn in Anwar on Sunday following the election and then deliver a general advice to the new Parliament on the need for its members to work together, reminding them what they had put citizens through recently what with the raging floods quite apart from the costs of the elections. That should tamper the enthusiasm of any mischievous parliamentarian toying with the idea of an early no-confidence vote on the new government.


            There is also more in this case beyond the counting of seats or popular votes. That is, the alternatives to Anwar had proven their inability to lead in the outgoing Parliament. Time for Malaysia to bet on someone else. That someone is Anwar, no matter how you shuffle the cards.



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