IDEAS welcomes the decision not to enter a state of Emergency.
- IDEAS supports a Confidence and Supply Agreement (CSA) conditional upon the following three conditions
- Politicians on all sides must reach a fully transparent democratic compromise in the interests of the people.
- Any compromise reached between Members of Parliament must be oriented towards policy, and not patronage interests.
- The CSA must not involve any compromise on the criminal charges currently faced by some MPs.
Kuala Lumpur, 26 October 2020 – The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) lauds the decision of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, after a special meeting with the Malay Rulers, to not grant the Prime Minister’s request to invoke Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, which declares a state of Emergency for Malaysia. His Majesty’s decision comes at a time when Malaysia is at a critical juncture of battling against the continued rise of COVID-19 cases and an upcoming Parliamentary sitting where Budget 2021 will be tabled.
Commenting on these developments, IDEAS CEO Tricia Yeoh says, “Malaysia’s democratic institutions must always be upheld, and any attempt to usurp Parliamentary democracy must be avoided. Now that it is certain an Emergency will not be proclaimed, Members of Parliament from both sides of the House must put aside their differences and prioritise the health and wellbeing of all Malaysians. In order for this to happen, a compromise must be struck between both Government and Opposition MPs in order for Budget 2021 to be passed on 6 November next Friday, which will undoubtedly involve some form of dealmaking. Several reputable CSOs and MPs have suggested that a Confidence and Supply Agreement (CSA) is needed to seal this compromise. IDEAS welcomes a CSA but conditional upon and only if the terms spelt out below are fulfilled. If executed well, the CSA can potentially be a tool for institutional reforms.”
First, IDEAS urges that any negotiations towards achieving this compromise must first and foremost be transparent, as the public deserves to know the intentions of their elected representatives. Second, these negotiations must be policy-oriented in nature, and not involve the promise of patronage-oriented distribution of positions or other lucrative arrangements. Third, they must not involve any compromise on the criminal charges currently faced by some MPs.
The current surge in COVID-19 infections means that all MPs and government officials must remain focused on the health and economic recovery of the nation. This warrants political and institutional stability, which requires a setting aside of differences until the situation eases.
However, if a general election becomes necessary at a time of COVID-19 as a last resort, then the Election Commission should prepare accordingly to pursue it as the only democratic solution to the current political impasse. We must learn the lessons from the Sabah State Elections, and the Election Commission should be provided with all necessary resources to prepare for that eventuality. Other countries have shown good examples in which general elections can be carried out safely during a pandemic. A complete ban on physical campaigning may have to be considered, which all political parties would need to comply with equally. This would also significantly reduce the costs of a general election.
Until then, all MPs must ensure transparency and accountability in their cooperation and prioritise the passing of Budget 2021. Malaysia desperately needs all of its resources to be concentrated towards rebuilding the country’s economic and social wellbeing. Yeoh said, “The country is truly at a crossroads and the country’s leaders have this one opportunity to choose the right path to do the right thing. We hope that they will demonstrate leadership in a time of crisis, today.”
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