After a full eight days Malaysia is still waiting to hear even the bare bones of a cabinet from a prime minister who has failed to demonstrate from where he got the numbers to convince the Agong he had the most support amongst MPs.
One can excuse the light work-pace of an unwell man only to a certain extent when one of the most serious public health crises in recent years hangs over the country. As one of the top Covid 19 affected countries Malaysia is the only one in the world without a Health Minister in situ to lead a coordinated response, at the very least, to this dire health threat.
Indeed, it can be argued that this political impasse has exacerbated Malaysia’s vulnerability to the Coronavirus, in that far from prioritising the health crisis many top politicians have spent even more time than normal rubbing shoulders at a time when cases have started to pop up amongst leadership circles.
Sarawak Report has learnt that in at least one case contact tracing from a known patient in KL (No 26) who already threw up concerns over proximity to leading politicians, has identified another case which could have been the original source of their infection. That new case has been found to have already infected members of their own family as well as work colleagues whose offices have been closed for decontamination.
Although the individual is now quarantined, Sarawak Report has been informed that they too can be identified as a highly ambitious professional player who is close to the leadership of the new government.
Despite experiencing possible symptoms during the period of the last few days, say angry sources who claim they also were exposed, the individual apparently preferred to further their career prospects by continuing to hold meetings with all their political contacts (and other prominent persons) instead of testing for the disease.
The new PM8 has today issued assurances, that he will come up with his cabinet – and presumably a Health Minister – by tomorrow, Tuesday at the latest. Meanwhile, all these politicians who have betrayed the trust of voters to play for political positions under leaders other than those they were elected to support, stand accused of putting ambition before the protection of public health.
The delay is plainly due to ambitious rivalry between the hotchpotch of competing factions who bundled together to form this backdoor coup. Far from re-opening parliament to test his numbers (the request of the majority PH parties who are now reunited after the upset created by the plotters who deserted last week) PM8 has prorogued it for two months to try and cobble a government majority where there was none in the first place.
This move is in direct contradiction to a Supreme Court ruling in the UK on an identical issue just a few weeks back, where judges unanimously denied a prime minister the right to ask the monarch to prorogue parliament when issues of national interest requiring a vote by MPs were at stake. So what?
Meanwhile, PM8 must struggle with the reality that everybody who betrayed their former colleagues in PH2 expects to be rewarded with a cabinet position (especially those who gave up ministerial posts to assist the PAS and UMNO plot). That includes the 11 Azmin deserters from PKR and Bersatu traitors also.
Yet PM8 must also satisfy the real main players behind the coup, the leaders of PAS and UMNO and now the king makers GPS who have been finally persuaded to join from Sarawak to start to help at least approximate the numbers needed for a majority.
GPS will expect reward more than most, given their own electorate of mainly Dayak and Chinese voters will respond with outrage back home to see their leaders bedding down with an extremist party whose leader again today smugly announced that non-Muslims, whilst ‘equal’, must not be allowed leadership positions in their own state or in government.
Another issue behind the delay may for the moment have been cosmetically solved, namely the issue of charged criminals from UMNO’s leadership being seen to drive this government, which of course they do.
Today, UMNO leader Zahid Hamidi announced that he is happy to be seen to wait on a cabinet post until he and his fellow defendants, who are charged with stealing billions of ringgit between them, have been seen to have ‘cleared their names’ in court.
Jaded Malaysians have watched enough decades of UMNO-managed justice to recognise plans for a rigged acquittal when they see one. Likewise, voters will understand that whether or not Zahid is in the cabinet as the leader of the largest party in the coalition he will be driving decisions (including his own acquittal).
Yet, the failure to even now appoint a Health Minister is just one indicator that PM8 is still struggling to manage the swirling pool of sharks all determined to better their positions from what they were before.
Not everyone can be satisfied and all signs are that this is just the beginning of a chaos of competing interests and rival opposing factions that will continue. The country will suffer.