Muhyiddin's reform deal to gain bipartisan support rejected by opposition

Mr Muhyiddin (above) pledged that if he wins the confidence vote with a two-thirds majority, he will implement reforms. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's reform deal to gain bipartisan support in the Sept 7 confidence vote barely gained a nibble from outside his shrinking Perikatan Nasional (PN), with few opposition lawmakers so far suggesting that their colleagues come to the negotiating table.

The bid by the Premier to stave off his defeat in the confidence vote was otherwise widely panned as insincere, and a bid to buy support instead of resigning after his tacit admission of losing command of the majority of Malaysia's 220 Members of Parliament.

In a statement on Saturday (Aug 14), Democratic Action Party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the party will not support Tan Sri Muhyiddin's bid to continue helming the country, no matter how tempting the institutional reforms promised by him.

"It is also about the timing surrounding the offer made by a prime minister who has lost his political legitimacy and parliamentary majority to resort to any means possible to remain in power," said Mr Lim

He added that his party will maintain its support for main opposition bloc Pakatan Harapan's (PH) choice of prime minister candidate, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

PH rejected outright the concessions announced on Friday .

"This is the first time in Malaysia's history where a prime minister admits that he has lost majority support yet continues to openly solicit opposition support," PH Presidential Council said in a statement.

"We reject the insincere offers made by Muhyiddin. Those were things that should have been implemented earlier and not upon reaching the end of his political lifeline," it added.

The statement was signed by Mr Anwar, Mr Lim, and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu.

Similarly, former premier Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pejuang Tanah Air also rejected the proposal.

Youth-centric political party Muda, Parti Warisan Sabah, Parti Sarawak Bersatu and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation also issued a joint statement urging Mr Muhyiddin to step down "honourably" and "allow the democratic process to be upheld".

Umno president Zahid Hamidi said an offer made by an "illegitimate" prime minister cannot be considered, as it is considered "open bribery".

Instead, he said the party is confident that it can come up with a better plan, especially to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, restore the economy and save the population and their livelihoods.

Mr Muhyiddin pledged on Friday that if he wins the confidence vote with a two-thirds majority, he will implement reforms, including limiting a prime minister's tenure to two terms and table an anti-party-hopping law to prevent elected lawmakers from switching sides.

He had sought bipartisan support to pass the confidence vote, following his Cabinet's agreement to hold talks with the leaders of other parties outside PN. He had declined to resign, saying no other MP can prove they have parliamentary majority support.

His already shaky majority was cast into further jeopardy after more than a dozen Umno MPs disavowed his leadership.

Mr Muhyiddin's tacit admission of the loss of his parliamentary majority came as the 88-strong PH called on lawmakers to rally behind Mr Anwar.

At least 111 MPs are needed for a majority in the 222-strong legislature as two seats are currently vacant.

Only a few opposition MPs have urged their colleagues to consider the Premier's concessions.

DAP lawmaker Ong Kian Ming said on Twitter on Friday: "PM Muhyiddin Yassin has proposed a way forward with a number of institutional reforms that could leave a lasting impact on Malaysian politics if passed. I think that all political parties should sit down to discuss if these terms are acceptable or not, no?"

This triggered a hot debate on Twitter, with Mr Ong taking a step back hours later, tweeting that he would stand by his party's decision.

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