Friday, February 27, 2009
By Wong Choon Mei
A call by the Islamic-based PAS for the formation of a unity government to put aside unnecessary negative politicking and focus national resources and attention on weathering the economic crisis has the full backing of the Pakatan Rakyat.
However, there is one all-important condition.
“Broadly speaking, Pakatan is agreeable with the idea and principle of a unity government given the uncharted economic uncertainty facing the nation,” said KeADILan information chief Tian Chua.
“But we are agreeable only, and only if the unity government is under Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. You can see for yourself, it is becoming quite clear, the people are uncomfortable with Najib, and we have to abide by their wishes.”
Put aside differences until next general election?
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had said that Barisan Nasional could not on its own pull Malaysia out from the economic crisis.
“To do it fairly it must involve all parties, in times of crisis it is important for all of to carry out our duties collectively,” Hadi was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Insider.
“I wish to suggest to the outgoing Prime Minister to make some changes, to at least complete his agenda in reforming the judiciary, eradicating corruption and I believe Barisan Nasional cannot do it alone.”
Abdullah is due to step down in favour of his deputy Najib Abdul Razak, who is also Finance Minister, on March 31.
The 55-year old Najib is the scion of one of the best-known political families in the country. Despite his distinguished lineage, he himself has been plagued by scandal throughout his 33-year political career.
Lacks the confidence of the people
Although the Umno-led Barisan Nasional no longer commands its long-held two-thirds majority in Parliament, it still has sufficient mandate to push through many programmes. However, it does not enjoy the confidence of the people and has been losing every by-election to the Pakatan since the March 2008 national polls.
The problem lies with the growing unpopularity and public distrust for Najib, who angered many Malaysians earlier this month with a questionable power grab in Perak state, leading to an outbreak of open and intensifying hostilities between the Pakatan and Umno-BN.
When news surfaced early last month that not a single initiative from a RM7 billion economic stimulus plan unveiled on Nov 4 had been implemented yet, public disquiet grew. Only then were steps hurriedly taken to push out RM5 billion in projects disbursements.
Disclosures from Najib’s own cabinet colleagues that chunks of the stimulus package were also to fund special projects in states holding by-elections further fuelled public distaste for his methods - reminiscent of those employed by his mentor, ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad and former economic adviser Daim Zainuddin.
Guilty or not, calls have been growing from the public as well as from civil society for Abdullah to stay on and keep an eye on the economy and the national coffers, as the government prepares to spend unprecedented billions to mitigate what will clearly be the worst-ever economic crisis.
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