LAST Thursday, the true colours of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was revealed. In a last-minute instruction, he directed all Pakatan Harapan MPs to not vote down Budget 2021 at the policy stage in the Dewan Rakyat.
This was despite weeks of ramping up the pressure on defeating the budget and months of anticipation of toppling the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government during this crucial vote. And when the critical moment appeared, what did PH leaders do? They backed off!
Anwar has tried to justify PH’s decision by saying that the bloc did not want to railroad portions of the budget which were crucial, especially to frontliners battling Covid-19. And neither did PH want to go against the wishes of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
But that was not the picture painted to PH’s supporters from the day Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled the budget on November 6. From the get go, PH’s campaign focussed on tearing the budget into pieces, whether by harping on Jasa, EPF withdrawals or supposed insufficient health funds to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
But sheepishly, PN not just backtracked but justified its decision with incoherent reasons. For example, if it did not want to go against the Agong by voting against the Budget, would it not be doing so if it rejects the bill at the committee stage?
We PH supporters would not have blamed Anwar, Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu had the attempt failed. Given the composition of the lower house, the vote could have swung either way. Besides, PN had the advantage of being in government.
The road to Putrajaya is a long and windy one. It took 10 years from 2008 when Barisan Nasional first lost its traditional two-thirds majority in the poll to the coalition’s eventual toppling in 2018. Even defeated last Thursday, we can always come back and fight again.
But voters are upset that the Anwar-led PH did not even try as a matter of principle, unlike Pejuang leaders like Dr Mahathir Mohamad who stood their ground. PH has only lended legitimacy to Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s administration. Anwar’s claim of “strong, convincing” majority is just that – an unproven claim.
If we can’t even trust PH to do things right when they are out of government, I don’t see how we can thrust them back into Putrajaya. Anwar at the helm, with his endless political theatrics has only served to chip away whatever credibility PH has left.
At this rate, PH under Anwar is more a liability than the glue that initially held the component parties together. If PH is determined to wrest back Putrajaya, it should consider ditching Anwar.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT