December 14, 2021

Darell Should Read the MOU instead of Playing the Race Card

I refer to the Warisan vice-president, Darell Leiking's accusation that Pakatan Harapan (PH) is yielding to the government via the MOU, and that somehow this has allowed the government to create antagonistic racial issues.

Firstly, it is dishonest and unprofessional of Darrell, a lawyer by profession, to allege PH has yielded to the government via the MOU. I would advise him to read the terms of the MOU carefully - it is available publicly on Parliament’s website - before making further irresponsible statements. In particular, he should read clauses 3.3 (a) and (b) which expressly provide that PH's decision to support or abstain from voting on the Budget or confidence Bills are subject to the government consulting PH and PH's prior agreement to these matters. Further, clause 9.1 also explicitly provides that nothing in the MOU shall affect PH's role and responsibility as the opposition in Parliament to act as a check and balance and to provide oversight of government powers.

The Parliamentary proceedings that followed after the MOU was signed are recorded in Hansards. These records will conclusively show that PH MPs have discharged their duties and responsibilities as the opposition, without fear or favour. If Darrell himself was diligent in attending Parliament, he would have witnessed firsthand the content of these PH speeches and debates. I categorically state that there is not one single iota of evidence to support Darrell's wild and mischievous allegations.

On the contrary, the MOU has enabled the first ever bipartisan pre-budget consultations to take place. This is not only historic but a giant step towards better fiscal planning. These pre-budget consultations have resulted in improvements to Budget 2022. In particular, the MOU enabled the bipartisan approval of RM45 billion added to the COVID-19 Fund. The budget consultations also saw greater emphasis on helping SMEs, jobs creation and targeted social welfare policies. Even after the budget was tabled, further negotiations saw budget increases for Parliamentary select committees, the auditor general office and gender responsive data collection. These increases are crucial for improving transparency, accountability, better governance and the rights of women.

The MOU has also provided for structural reforms, some completed and others pending. The MOU has enabled Opposition MPs to chair half of all the Parliamentary select committees. The opposition was also given fair representation in the National Recovery Council, an entity created to help the nation to contain and recover from Covid-19. Clause 2.2 of the MOU delivered the full implementation of Undi18 very recently. By the end of today, we are expected to see the MA63 constitutional amendments passed in Parliament, as per clause 5.1 of the MOU. This amendment is something that Darrell and Warisan should thank Pakatan Harapan for. As per clauses 2.1 and 3.1 of MOU, two very important legislations, the Anti-Hopping law and the Parliamentary Services Act are also in the process of being drafted and are expected to be tabled mid next year.

Now let me deal with second matter, the racial issues raised by Darrell. While I have no issue with Warisan trying to rebrand itself as a national party, it is absolutely irresponsible for Warisan to try to claim political mileage by alleging that PH condones the government’s racial policies. It is disingenuous of Darell to blame PH for the continued practice of narrow racial and religious politics. It is ironic that while Warisan tries to rebrand itself, its greatest political ally remains Tun Dr Mahathir. Darrel should know that the purveyors of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ and other religious extremist positions are the main reasons why the nation continues to be divided and wrecked by racial and religious identity politics, not the MOU and definitely not PH.

I would like to advise Warisan to first learn the dynamics of identity politics of Peninsular Malaysia before making wild allegations against PH. Warisan should also first recapture Sabah and end the culture of party-hopping in Sabah as a priority. Since Darrell himself hopped from Keadilan in 2016 to Warisan, he will have first-hand experience on how to deal with the matter. As for his allegations that many PH MPs are unhappy with the MOU, I urge him to disclose these names or risk being exposed as an opportunist.

Saifuddin Nasution Ismail
Chief Secretary of Pakatan Harapan
Member of Parliament for Kulim-Bandar Bharu

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