P Ramakrishnan criticises Muhyiddin for playing political games, and having the wrong priority at a time when the whole world, including Malaysia, is faced with the threat posed by Coronavirus (Covid-19)

When one loses the trust of the people, he ipso facto forfeits the confidence of the people. That is what is happening to the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government. To be exact, this is Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s situation in the present times. He has lost the trust and the confidence of the people in his leadership.

To begin with, there is hardly any national leadership. His leadership does not focus on the governance of the nation. The fact that we are confronted with the most dangerous virus does not seem to bother him. His attention is not directed to combating this deadly enemy amongst us.

What then is his priority?

His immediate worrying concern appears to be his position and power. Come what, come may, he seems determined to consolidate his position. His actions apparently confirm this.

Playing politics

He is merrily playing politics when the nation is reeling from the onslaught of the Covid-19 virus. On 18 March vide a letter he sacked Marzuki Yahaya, the secretary-general of Bersatu, with immediate effect, without providing any explanation or reason for the dismissal.

The manner of the dismissal is questionable. There was no show cause letter, no internal investigation, no disciplinary board hearing, no natural justice accorded to Marzuki.

It is alleged that Marzuki is a staunch supporter of Dr Mahathir and he was as secretary-general in a key position in charge of administration of Bersatu. He would have played an important role in the upcoming party AGM and internal leadership elections. These elections are scheduled to take place from April onwards.

Muhyiddin sees danger in Marzuki occupying the key position and, in order to deny Dr Mahathir any advantage in the party elections, he decided to get rid of Marzuki. It is as plain as that!

Dr Mahathir has contended that Muhyiddin, as party president, is obliged to discuss with him, the party chairman, before any action can be instituted. Since this constitutional requirement was ignored, DrMahathir has declared that the dismissal of Marzuki was null and void and that Marzuki was still the secretary-general.

Muhyiddin’s move was absolutely political and intended to consolidate his position in the party, caring a damn for the party constitution.To think that he would be spending his time in maneuvering Bersatu to his advantage, at a time when his energy and focus should be directed to combat the Covid-19 is most unbecoming of a national leader. The people’s welfare seemed to have taken second place.

In pursuit of political power to entrench themselves, according to Anwar, overtures are being made to entice MPs from Pakatan Harapan(PH) to switch camp.“We have leaders, ministers, including the Home Minister who, instead of looking into the virus and national security (issues), are trying to entice people, calling up our party MPs and persuading them, promising all sorts of perks to join them,” he told CNBC in an interview today.

It is appalling that the Home Minister and other ministers are so actively involved in attempting to persuade MPs to ditch PH when their attention should be focused on how to save the nation from the Covid-19 danger.

Further politicking

In further politicking, five PH-controlled state Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers were left out when a meeting to coordinate efforts to combat Covid-19 was held in Putrajaya on 17 March. When we are confronted by a deadly virus that threatens the lives of Malaysians, Perikatan Nasional chose to play partisan politics.

Though, subsequently, the Government Chief Secretary, Mohd Zuki Ali, apologized for leaving out the five states, it is difficult to believe that it was an honest mistake,

Zuki clarified that Prime Minister Muhyiddin had instructed the meeting’s secretariat for all heads of state government to be invited to the meeting, without exception. If that was the case, how could the invitations have gone to the state development directors of Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Sabah? But they made no mistake in inviting the Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers of states controlled by PN! His explanation sounds like a cock-and-bull story!

If the invitations had also gone to the development directors of the PN- controlled states, it could be accepted as a genuine mistake. But that wasn’t the case. For these states, the invitations were correctly sent to the Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers.

Even if we are to assume that a genuine mistake was made, shouldn’t the absence of appropriate representation from the five other states have been very stark to the PM to be bewildered when he attended the meeting that morning?

Since the meeting was meant for all the states in the country, shouldn’t the PM have ipso factor cancelled the meeting and reconvened it the next day for all of them to jointly address the Covid-19 threat and find a way to fight this menace? Why didn’t the PM apologize for the mistake, if that was what they are claiming?

It was only when NGOs and others reacted strongly to the exclusion of the five states that Zuki apologized late in the day. But his side of the story wasn’t convincing.

More political games

In continuing their political games, the Opposition MPs were denied their allocations for servicing their constituencies. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) did not include Opposition MPs in the annual allocations approved for MPs.

During these difficult times following the Movement Control Order (MCO), many people were without jobs and incomes. The marginalized and the handicapped are in dire straits and yet Muhyiddin could carry on with this heartless and cruel political victimization. By withholding these allocations, Muhyiddin is not just punishing the Opposition MPs, but the innocent citizens through no fault of theirs.

Three Opposition MPs – Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, Lembah Pantai MP FahmiFadzil and Johor Bahru MP Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir – had their allocations withheld. If the money came from his party funds, Muhyiddin could decide how it is to be distributed or who deserves it but this allocation comes from the public coffers. It is the people’s money! And Muhyiddinhas no right to deny them this! These MPs are entitled to it!

Syed Saddiq laments, “Many are suffering in Muar because of Covid-19 and need assistance as quickly as possible. …When Covid-19 is flooding the country, this is when the people of Muar had their assistance pulled.”

This is nothing but dirty politics. There is no conscience. It is a blatant abuse of power.

It is shocking to learn of Syed Saddiq’s disclosure, “I have been offered all kinds of bribes to buy my soul so that I will stab my party in the back, so that I will hold a Press conference to slam Mahathir…”

What unscrupulous politicians we have in this country. Don’t they know anything else except bribery? Bribery seems to be their specialty in politics!

Pathetically, Syed Saddiq asks, “What wrong have the people of Muar done? What wrong have I done?”

In similar fashion, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil moans,“They even picked the middle of a pandemic as the time to do this,” the PKR communications director said.

Likewise, Johor Bharu MP Akmal Nasir had his allocation for his constituency frozen. Johor Bahru is the capital of Johor and many petty traders and hawkers are badly hit during this MCO.

Petty politics is punishing Johoreans, thanks to a politician who was elected from Johor and who is the PM now.

Johoreans have proudly called themselves Rakyat Johor, something His Majesty, the Sultan of Johor, had also promoted very vigorously. We wonder what His Majesty’s reaction will be when his subjects are unfairly and unjustly punished and denied assistance by a traitorous Johorean who is now the PM of Malaysia? What are his thoughts when his subjects are made to suffer cruelly through no fault of their own by ungrateful politicians?

To think that this injustice is perpetrated by this new Malay-Muslim government claiming to champion the race, religion and country! It challenges commonsense, surpasses understanding and defies imagination!

This is the startling truth: what Malays can do to Malays is indeed bewildering!

In the past the lie that was promoted was that the Chinese and the DAP were out to do in the Malays. Now who is the enemy of the Malays? Who is trying to do them in?

During this difficult time while the virus rages on, we are reminded of the saying: Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

23 March 2020

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

P Ramakrishnan is the long-serving former president of Aliran who served three and a half decades on its executive committee, and has been with Aliran since its inception in 1977. Now an ordinary Aliran member, he continues to highlight issues of public interest to a larger audience.