Pak Lah Should Recommend A Tunship For BN 'Judas', Yong Teck Lee
The crossover of the Sabah Progressive Party to the opposition could trigger other defections by government members of parliament. The 14-party National Front coalition government has a slim 30-seat majority in the 222-member parliament.
Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition leader, claims he has the numbers to bring down the government after the National Front coalition suffered its biggest electoral setback in March since taking power at independence in 1957.
Some analysts believe that it is unlikely that SAPP, which has only two MPs, would have called for no-confidence vote without consulting Mr Anwar.
"Anwar has been upping the ante (against the government). The SAPP may be either testing the waters on his behalf or Anwar now believes he has sufficient strength to bring down the government," said an opposition political advisor. Mr Anwar had set a mid-September deadline for toppling the government with a no-confidence vote.
Mr Anwar has been wooing political parties from the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, which hold the balance of power in the coalition government. The two states have long complained that they have been ignored by the central government.
But some observers cautioned that the SAPP move may be a ploy to see whether the government or opposition will offer the most concessions to win the support of the Sabah parties, which are seeking increased government spending and more royalties from natural resources.
"We must make a stand before the window of opportunity closes," said Yong Teck Lee, the SAPP president. Sabah politicians complain that they are under-represented in the cabinet in spite of the election results that gave them increased power.
The SAPP decision could undermine support for Mr Abdullah within the government's dominant party, the United Malays National Organisation. The SAPP action "points to the depth of the leadership crisis facing the country," said Razaleigh Hamzah, who plans to challenge Mr Abdullah as government head in Umno party elections in December.
The prime minister has been criticised by Umno members after the government lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority and an unprecedented five of 13 states in the March polls. Mr Abdullah also is facing public discontent over his recent decision to raise petrol prices by 40 per cent to curb a surge in state fuel subsidies. Mr Anwar has seized on the issue to win popular support.
SAPP said it could decide today whether to join formally the current three-party opposition People's Alliance led by Mr Anwar.
However, a parliamentary showdown next week could still be averted if the parliamentary speaker, a MP from Sabah, rules against the motion or decides to postpone it for two weeks as allowed under the constitution.
His decision will be seen as an indication of whether Mr Anwar is gaining ground in Sabah, whose MPs are viewed as being the most likely to defect to the oppostion.
Mr Anwar recently claimed that MPs from the Malaysian Chinese Association, which represents the interests of the ethnic Chinese minority in the ruling coalition, are ready also to defect.
Mr Anwar has promised to reform the government's policy of giving preferential treatment to the ethnic Malay majority, which minority groups claim discriminates against them.
If the government loses a no-confidence vote, Mr Abdullah must resign or ask the king to dissolve parliament and call for new elections. If the king refuses to do so, he would appoint a new prime minister. (Financial Times, UK)
***** The PM should be quite glad that the SAPP have at last come out of the woodwork to initiate this no-confidence motion in Parliament. For one, the suspense of when and by whom is over.
The threat to the government from such a move is minimal in real terms. Chances are that the motion would not even be allowed to be tabled. However this SAPP (mis)adventure gives Pak Lah the golden chance to rally not only Umno members but also the other Malays wavering on the sidelines.
Nothing motivates the average Malay more to close ranks than a perceived threat from the 'opportunistic, disloyal and greedy' Chinese. Suddenly the fake cry of "Malays in danger" by Umno last month seems more likely to be true and indeed requires urgent addressing by the sons of the soil.
If this no-confidence vote had been initiated by the East Malaysian natives or a Malay it would have been tolerable. After all, one Malay backstabbing a 'brother' Malay in politics is par for the course. But a bloody Chinese shafting the Melayu? God forbid! As for the other component BN parties their reaction to this silly SAPP move would be predictable and pedestrian.
Fully expect Dr Mahathir to take the stance of the rabid racist and fan and stoke the embers in the next few days with a typical "this is what happens when you have a weak Umno leader and the Malays are divided and eventually 'forced to give up everything' to the kaum pendatang and the Singaporeans."
Chances are that Yong Teck Lee, whatever may be the reason for sticking his neck out, has willy nilly provided a platform for Pak Lah to give the clarion call for Malay unity in the midst of a 'challenge' from the traditional 'archenemy', the Chinese. There will definitely be people within Umno who even now be plotting the strategy for feeding the Malays with this sort of innuendo and fuel the fire of hatred and the fear of the loss of Malay political power to the others.
And for this, Pak Lah should be very grateful to SAPP and its unreliable leader. Congratulations TunYong Teck Lee for you will succeed in achieving what even the strongest of Umno leaders couldn't, in uniting the Malays like never before.
Image - Source