SO far, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s track record after taking office on March 1, 2020 has been abysmal. Not only was the way he came into power highly questionable, but he has not demonstrated any leadership qualities worth talking about.
This becomes very apparent if one goes back and examines critically what he has done after more than 15 months in the most important position in Malaysia. Here are 10 reasons why Muhyiddin should quit and let someone else run this country.
1. He was part of the Sheraton Move
This connivance with the person who became his senior minister and de facto successor, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, was a betrayal of the people who had elected the Pakatan Harapan coalition into power. He came in through the back door, deserting a coalition that was the choice of the people and forming a new one with the aid of those which PH had opposed in the previous elections and defectors from PKR, a key member of the PH coalition. We can say more, but most Malaysians know this already.
2. He expanded the cabinet to some 70 from 55, including deputy ministers
This was part one of his grand plan to obtain support from at least 70 MPs and keep that support. After all, ministers get much money and perks, and have considerable leeway to distribute patronage through contracts, awards, recommendations, introductions and such. These give considerable leeway for those appointed to make much more money than their salaries and perks if they so choose to do so.
3. Appointment of politicians to GLCs and other government bodies
For the remaining MPs who had helped him gain power by their support for him, he offered plum positions in government-linked companies (GLCs) and other government authorities, as I explained here. In so doing, he gave no consideration as to whether they were competent or not, resulting in heads of these organisations who had no clue as to what they were doing, but who earned upwards of a further RM70,000 per month – much more, in some cases – in addition to extra perks and privileges such as cars and drivers, allowances, etc.
A very telling example of such incompetence rising to the top was when Pasir Salak MP and former Prasarana Malaysia Bhd chairman Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman resigned over his appallingly poor handling of the news conference held over the LRT train accident. The person who should have resigned over this was Muhyiddin, as I explained here, because he was responsible for the appointment of incompetent people to important positions. He did that to keep his position as prime minister.
4. He engineered new polls in Sabah
Encouraged by his “success” in engineering a change of government at the federal level, a first in the annals of Malaysian history, he moved into Sabah. After multiple charges of money laundering were dropped against former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and state assemblymen crossed over to other parties, the Sabah government collapsed. This led to a disastrous state election in Sabah at a time when the nation was struggling to contain Covid-19. It was doing a good job up until that point in time.
5. He allowed campaigning in Sabah with blatant disregard for SOPs
When the election took place in Sabah, there was extensive campaigning permitted with blatant disregard for Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) in terms of social distancing, movement of people, and gatherings, among others. Government politicians were given free movement between the peninsula and Sabah, which saw a surge in Covid-19 cases in Malaysia. This completely negated the months of effort undertaken by the authorities and notably the Health Ministry to bring cases down to very low levels, earning the gratitude of the Malaysian public and international praise for our efforts. But the political expediency engineered by Muhyiddin and gang brought all that crumbling down, as I explained here.
6. He recommended and eventually managed to get a needless emergency
Muhyiddin first recommended an emergency last October to the king, who rejected it after conferring with the rulers. When news of the emergency circulated, there was a social media backlash against it. I wrote this piece against it.
The move was for Muhyiddin to stay in power, as I explained here.
But in January 2021, he resubmitted a proposal for an emergency to fight Covid-19 when there was no reason to. But this time, the king relented and gave Muhyiddin what he wanted, with no reference to the rulers.
7. He gave himself too much power under the emergency ordinance
The powers under the emergency ordinance were just too much and went far beyond the scope of fighting Covid-19. It was a perilous situation for Malaysia to be moving into, where one man can rule the country without having to refer to anyone else, and with no checks and balances, as I explained in this article.
8. He stood by without doing anything when Covid-19 numbers rose
Muhyiddin waited too long before he gave orders for the latest lockdown. The numbers were already going up too fast and too high, as I explained in this column.
Infections increased, and deaths, too. He waited until the number of daily cases topped 9,000, making our figures higher than the number of Covid-19 cases per million people for India, before imposing a full lockdown. But more than a month into the lockdown, cases are typically still over 6,000 per day, reflecting the abject failure of our Covid-19 containment programme.
9. He has no proper economic response to Covid-19
Aid packages were wishy-washy. His latest Pemulih package uses the loan moratorium, and money from the Employees Provident Fund, to finance RM130 billion of the RM150 billion package, as I explained here. There is simply insufficient aid to the very poor, who lead a subsistent existence and have insufficient money to buy necessities.
10. He refuses to enlist opposition help to fight Covid-19
If Muhyiddin reconvenes Parliament – he finally committed to doing so yesterday – he should get bipartisan support to increase the government debt ceiling currently at 60% of gross domestic product (GDP, the sum of goods and services produced in a year), so that the government can borrow to give direct cash grants to the poor, who are badly affected by the lockdowns. That he has not attempted to do this at all is the height of irresponsibility.
For the above 10 already unforgivable reasons, and many more, he should step down – for the sake of the country and the people. He has shown that he is terribly ineffective as a leader, no matter what his reasons. That will also help him fight his illness and allow him to take care of his health. – The Vibes, July 6, 2021
P. Gunasegaram says health will eventually take care of wealth – the problem is finding the right path. He is chief executive of Sekhar Institute and editorial consultant of The Vibes