Winners and losers, one year on
It is an affront to democracy and elections and should only take place under extreme circumstances. But the 14th Parliament has been such.
It is now timely to take stock of who are the winners and losers, one year after Perikatan Nasional took power from Pakatan Harapan.
No other prime minister has had a harder political year than the 72-year-old Bersatu president.
In one year, Muhyiddin has faced some 30 no-confidence motions, allegations of impropriety, MPs withdrawing their support, losing the Perak government to Umno, threats of defections and claims by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim that he had lost the government.
And to top it all off, Muhyiddin is the first prime minister to lead a minority government, albeit for just one-and-a-half months.
Some will argue that Muhyiddin is able to stay afloat by making the right cabinet and government-linked company (GLC) appointments aided by the unconventional but timely emergency order.
Others will say he has able lieutenants such as Mohamed Azmin Ali and Hamzah Zainuddin to aid him.
But make no mistake. The PN chief has triumphed over other seasoned political masters such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Najib Razak, Anwar Ibrahim, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Mohd Shafie Apdal.
A feat unlikely to be surpassed by anyone else.
Formed in 2016, Bersatu won 13 federal and 24 state seats in the 2018 election. But despite being the smallest party, then chairman Dr Mahathir became the prime minister as it was part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election promise.
One year after the infamous “Sheraton move”, Bersatu now has 25 federal seats while holding on to the prime minister’s post.
But unlike last year, Bersatu no longer has to face vocal component parties such as PKR, DAP and Amanah. It now has the lion’s share of the cabinet and GLC positions and it can pretty much do what it wants.
To top it off, Bersatu now leads the newly formed PN coalition with PAS, Star and former PKR defectors. PN now has 53 MPs, second only to PH, which has 89 while former giants Barisan Nasional only has 42.
From being a party confined to ruling Kelantan and Terengganu, PAS now rules Kedah and holds key positions in Putrajaya and the Perak government.
Following the reverse takeover by Bersatu last year, PAS’ secondary leaders, who lost in the last election, have also been given senatorships and GLC posts. Some would say these are just some of the rewards that come from supporting the man in power.
After losing all its seats in the 2018 election, Gerakan dropped BN like a hot potato. But sensing the gap or lack of non-Malays in PN, Gerakan has quickly hopped onto the new chariot. Since then, Gerakan has already gained one DAP rep from Perak.
The confidence is so high in Gerakan that the party now aims to retake Penang from PH in the 15th general election.
The coalition of PKR, DAP, Amanah and Bersatu brought a welcome respite after 61 years by ending the solitary rule of BN in 2018. Along with the win, came hope and promise that winter was finally over.
And while its 22 months showed promise, infighting, arrogance and the lack of focus by some leaders gave opportunists the chance to kill the newcomers.
Since then, PH continues to lose sight of the goal, culminating in its inability to form even a shadow cabinet or stand up to be counted during the first vote for Budget 2021. On top of that, it is still bickering over the Dr Mahathir-Anwar power transition that never happened.
After one year, PH is a coalition still floundering with its problems.
The dominant BN party thought its troubles were over when it partnered Bersatu, PAS, GPS and others to push PH out of the government last year.
Umno believed this was its chance to get back to Putrajaya and perhaps bring an end to the legal problems faced by the party.
But while Umno returned to government, the new cabinet appointments have broken the party leadership. Added to the less-than-honest relationship with its new partners, Umno lost the Sabah chief minister’s post despite winning the state elections last September.
Today, the party leadership appears to be ruptured, with one group pushing to end the political marriage with Bersatu in GE15 and the other wanting to continue the relationship.
The price of returning to power has been very costly for Umno and it is still unsure of what to do with PAS.
Towards the end of 2020, many Malaysians were unhappy with PH. And they showed it at the by-elections in Tg Piai and Semenyih, where the ruling coalition lost.
Some of these grouses were valid and many were justifiably relieved when PN replaced PH last year.
But since then, Malaysians have had to witness unwarranted GLC appointments, poor economic policies, opaque government decisions, double standards, flip-flop government policies, more political defections and emergency rule.
A definite loss for the common man and woman.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT