Will UMNO MPs split into two factions with one voting against the 2021 Budget and toppling the Muhyiddin government?
Political pundits and cognoscentis are following closely the political scenario to see whether the 38 UMNO Members of Parliament will split into two factions, with one faction voting against the 2021 Budget during the Second Reading on Thursday and toppling the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government of Muhyiddin Yassin.
The views of one faction were articulated by the former Prime Minister, Najib Razak in his maiden speech as the new Chairman of the Barisan Nasional (BN) Backbenchers’ Club expressing conditional support for next year’s Budget.
The Chairman of the Perikatan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club, Shahidan Kassim has denied that that he had referred to Najib in his speech on the 2021 budget in Parliament, when he said that anyone who rejected the 2021 budget was “a traitor to the people because the people are waiting for the budget”. He said he was referring to the former health minister, Dzulkefly Ahmad.
He declared his “undivided support” for Muhyiddin and the 2021 Budget.
Subsequently, he took to the Facebook to say that some had cast aspersions that Najib, UMNO President Zahid Hamidi and UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah would reject the budget, but he expressed confidence that the trio, as member of BN, would stick with PN.
In his speech, Zahid said the government should move a motion of confidence to be debated in the Dewan Rakyat.
In interviews, Tengku Razaleigh called on MPs to think about their constituents’ interests and not merely adhere to party orders when deciding which way to vote.
This has led to the UMNO Secretary-General Annuar Musa issuing a warning to UMNO MPs who were thinking of voting against the Supply Bill.
Annuar dismissed Tengku Razaleigh’s remarks as his “personal view” and said those who voted against the party line risked electoral consequences.
Zahid had said that all 43 BN MPs will pledge their support for Budget 2021.
But this did not prevent an UMNO Vice President, Mohamed Khaled Nordin from declaring yesterday that MPs should support, reject or abstain on the vote on the 2021 Budget based on their "conscience".
He suggested that UMNO MPs should be allowed to break ranks with their party during the 2021 Budget vote in the Dewan Rakyat if they disagreed with the fiscal document.
So will the 38 UMNO MPs split into two factions with one faction voting against the 2021 Budget and toppled Muhyiddin as Prime Minister?
But this issue is not solely about UMNO as it has vast significance and implications for Malaysia.
As Annuar has said significantly in an interview with the UMNO chief, UMNO has lost the option of going into the next general election only with PAS, as PAS won’t go into the 15th General Election with UMNO if Bersatu is not included.
He subsequently told the UMNO Youth Chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki to read between the lines after the latter insisted that the UMNO-PAS pact without Bersatu is still on for the 15th General Election.
He also said UMNO leaders who attempt to strike a bargain with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim just to get a better deal in the next government was committing a “huge offence”.
Which is probably why Annuar were among those who broached the idea of a Grand Coalition.
But sadly, those who talk of a “Grand Coalition” are the practitioners of the toxic and extremist politics of race and religion who have forgotten the five Rukun Negara principles as the basis to build a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia where the Malaysian nation is more important than any race, religion or culture.
The vision of these advocates of a “Grand Coalition” are as different as night and day from the vision of nation’s founders like Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Merdeka Day aspiration in 1957 to be “a beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world” and the Dream of all Malaysians for Malaysia to be a world top class nation which is on the cutting edge of technology, leveraging on the best values of the four great civilisations which meet in confluence in Malaysia.
This is because the advocates of a Grand Coalition want Malaysia to return to the trajectory of a failed state, kleptocracy and kakistocracy and have no vision for a better Malaysia for all Malaysians.
Let me quote from the speech of former CIMB Chairman and brother of the former Prime Minister, Dato Sri Nazir Razak at a recent Chevening Alumni Leadership Talk:
“It has now been 50 years and the 1970-designed system remains substantially in place, entrenched by vested interest and the ease with which race and religion can be mobilized in its defence, and plagued with norms which are either compromising or outright corrupt. Tun Razak and Tun Dr Ismail, the main authors of the recalibrated system, recognized the amplified risk of corruption but they placed trust in individuals driven by the nationhood mission and didn’t do enough to build safeguards. It was actually apparent quite early on that corruption was seeping in, but it got worse in the 1980’s as competition for political positions and spoils within UMNO and BN increasingly took precedence over nation building.
“The system is no longer fit for purpose and that Malaysia is in dire need of another system reset. I will leave it to the historians to argue about when and why the system fell into decline. But since the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990’s we have been under-firing economically, growing apart as communities, losing our best talents and falling behind newly emerging countries like Indonesia and Vietnam for FDI. The 4th Industrial Revolution will only compound under-performance of economies that are not leveraging their best talents, struggle to attract quality investments and defer to vested interest and incumbents: Where innovation and entrepreneurship are stifled.”
We are at the crossroads.
Malaysians must decide between the future and the past – to return to the international stage to excel in various fields of human endeavor, serving the interests of 99 per cent of Malaysians and not just one per cent who are the cronies of the political leaders of the day or return to the past of corruption, malfeasance, kleptocracy and kakistocracy, with Malaysians more divided along racial and religious lines than united as a Bangsa Malaysia after 63 years of nation-building as envisioned by Wawasan 2020.