What unity government?

A unity government is formed when:

  • A country is waging a war
  • There is a national calamity like famine, for example
  • The aftermath of a national tragedy
  • The death of a truly national figure

With some respect to the interim prime minister, I am afraid there are none of the above factors in existence in the country at this point in time to even think of, let alone, consider the formation of a unity government.

Yet, the interim prime minister is moving the idea of a unity government. But for what reason?

  • Because of the incessant bickering amongst the political parties?
  • Because of an attempted coup by the people whom he had trusted?
  • Because there is an acrimonious tussle for the premiership?
  • Or Dr Mahathir Mohamad fervently (or mistakenly) believes that all parties unanimously want him to lead a unity government? To save the country?

I have to say that none of the above points mentioned contributes an iota of justification to even consider the formation of a unity government.

Honestly, do we, the rakyat, need a unity government to save us? To save us from what? It baffles the mind to try and fathom how a unity government can solve the country’s problems. Matter of fact, it may make things worse.

Maybe the events of the past few days were blisteringly hot and created so much drama that it may have been a bit too stressful for Mahathir to stomach.

But to agree to disagree is surely a critical part of our political fabric which has stood the test of time. In spite of all the rhetoric and, sometimes, heated exchange of words among the politicians and though uncouth at times, sanity has always prevailed. This is a humble tribute to the maturity of the politics of Malaysians that have evolved over the years.

In any case, I cannot remember the country ever forming a unity government to respond to a national crisis – not even during the infamous May 13 riots nor during the dark days of the Malayan Emergency in the ’50s.

Probably the nearest attempt we had to a unity government was, perhaps, during Confrontation, or Konfrontasi, just before the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

Now, that was a great moment because there was national conscription of all Malaysians from all walks of life, irrespective of race and religion who were drafted into the armed forces to fight against the then enemy, Indonesia, led by their mercurial President Sukarno. It was the great Tunku Abdul Rahman who was the unifying factor for all Malaysians then.

The point, therefore, that we need to ask ourselves is whether the problems or issues we face today are anywhere near those of May ’69, the Malayan Emergency and Konfrontasi? Definitely not.

It makes no sense why the interim prime minister would want to think of the notion of a unity government. To serve what purpose? Save the country? In spite of all the daily political drama we Malaysians have to bear with notwithstanding a lousy economy, I’d say there are no circumstances at this point to warrant the formation of a unity government.

Honestly, let us allow due process to take place. At this point in time, a unity government will have no winner. The people will not accept a unity government that is not accountable to the people. Those who are accountable to the people are the elected representatives in Parliament.

Meanwhile, in spite of the hullaballoo initially orchestrated by Azmin Ali and company, the economy is still chugging along albeit with some hiccups, and, of course, not made any better by the coronavirus which seems to want to affect all and sundry.

But should this virus get out of hand, then perhaps there could be a faint justification for a unity government; Mahathir, the good doctor himself, would be the perfect choice to lead such a unity government.

Political impasse

But until this happens, let’s continue as we are; let the protagonists fight among themselves but as someone said,, if there is political impasse as it stands now, then let’s have a vote count in Parliament to see which party or grouping can garner a majority to form a government.

And supposing there are no winners, then Mahathir can do us a huge favour by advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament and give the mandate back to the rakyat to decide who should govern the country.

I thought the Sarawak chief minister put it very succinctly when he said the state would abide by any decision of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to resolve the political situation in accordance with the relevant articles of the Federal Constitution. The constitution is the supreme instrument that all Malaysians abide by. Let’s just stick to it.

As it stands, it is no wonder that the Malaysian people are getting increasingly fed-up with the manner in which the country is being governed. There were so much expectations we had of the Pakatan Harapan government after the last general election, just barely over two years ago.

Admittedly, there have been some improvements but so much more could have been achieved.

For better or for worse (again!), can our politicos determine who shall run the country so that we can move on? We all have so much work to do!

Ronald Quay is an FMT reader

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.