COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG
Is the MOU dead or alive?
Whether or not the defeat of the motion extending a key provision of Sosma, or Security Offences (Special Measures) Act of 2012 in Parliament yesterday signals the end of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the government and the opposition is true or not, is not clear.
This provision of the Sosma Act 2012 allows the detention of a suspect for 28 days without the oversight of the court. In responding to the motion, 84 MPs voted for it and 86 MPs voted in unison against it.
The defeat of the motion was used by some Umno MPs, some of them were not present in Parliament, to say that the opposition betrayed the MOU.
Since the MOU has been rendered non-existent, the call for an earlier general election has become loud. I am not sure that those MPs who are calling the MOU as dead are the ones who did not attend the parliamentary session where the vote was taken.
Why the MPs were absent is an interesting question; whether they deliberately did not attend to ensure the defeat of the motion or they had better things to do.
Surely an important parliamentary session on the motion could not be missed for some other matters that are deemed more important than the parliamentary session itself.
I think that that there was a deliberate attempt to defeat the motion by not attending the session to pave the way for an early general election.
Once the motion was defeated, the Umno MPs turned said that since the opposition failed to support the government as required under the MOU, then the government has no choice but to abandon the agreement.
The MOU between the government and the opposition did not preclude the notion of checks and balances. The MOU was not a blank check that the opposition gave the government whatever it wanted to do.
It was agreement to bring political about political stability or transformative politics. The opposition agreed to support the budget to ensure government stability in return for the implementation of among others the anti-hopping legislation.
I don’t think that the opposition gave up its traditional oppositional role.
Although the MOU was diluted the reform agenda of the opposition, it was also an attempt prevent the kleptocratic leaders from Umno coming to power.
For the non-performing Prime Minister Ismail Saberi Yaacob, it was lifetime opportunity to be in a number one position for some time.
The MOU between the government and the opposition has not gone well with some sections of diehard supporters of the latter.
The pact with the government is one of the reasons as to why the opposition is not doing well in politics.
If the anti-hopping law is not passed in the Parliament, the MOU might be history. The longer the MOU lasts, the longer it is going to take the opposition to make back a comeback in national politics.
The motion to renew the a key provision in Sosma Act of 2012, is not only a blessing for UMNO leaders who are pressing for an early general election, but an equal blessing for the opposition.
The very fact that they could come together under trying circumstances to defeat the motion speaks well of the opposition.
This dissent against an obnoxious provision of the Sosma gives some credibility to the opposition. The opposition has been generally weakened by its association with the former prime minister Mahathir Mohammed in the aftermath of the 2018 election.
After losing a series of by-elections to Umno led BN, the opposition’s credibility is low and submerged. The defeat of the parliamentary motion that sought to buttress the cruel and obnoxious provision of Sosma has earned some credibility to the opposition in general.
It doesn’t matter whether the MOU is intact or not.
It might be dead for those in the kleptocrats camp to push for an early election. The opposition doesn’t want an early election, it should be scheduled one after a full term.
Even if the a general election is called by the federal government, PH and even those states under PAS might not go along. There is no real necessity for PH leaders to defend the idea that the MOU in force.
I don’t think think any opposition worthy of its name will support the draconian provision of the Sosma Act 2012, whether the vote against the provision contravenes the MOU or not.
The MOU is a short measure to keep out the kleptocrats from power.
It would politically suicidal of the opposition to support the renewal provision of the draconian act in the name of defending the MOU.
Even if the vote against the Sosma provision went against the MOU, so what.
It is not worth blindly supporting the MOU, if it condones nasty and inhuman legislations such as the Sosma Act 2012. The opposition made a mistake in not calling for the repeal of the legislation itself.
Why oppose only a particular provision and not the entire legislation?
The vote against the special provision of the Sosma Act 2012 has given some measure of credibility and respectability to the opposition.
However, sorry to say, there is a long way to go for the opposition to restore the credibility and legitimacy that it had a few years ago.