Political scientist and social activist Chandra Muzaffar has questioned the wisdom of seeking a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at a time when the nation is fighting the Covid-19 virus.
Speaking to FMT, he said the nation should be focusing on managing the interrelated health and economic crises caused by the epidemic.
He acknowledged that the question of whether Muhyiddin had the support of the lower house was something that needed to be resolved, but said it could wait.
One possible result of the vote is the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of fresh elections.
If that were to happen, Chandra said, the financial cost would be huge.
“It’s estimated that the process, just for parliamentary seats, would cost RM800 million. Given the economic crisis and all the expenses that have emerged due to the health crisis, can we afford such a huge expenditure?” he asked.
He also spoke of the health risks posed by crowds attending campaign activities, questioning whether political parties and would-be voters could observe social distancing.
If the vote does not result in the dissolution of Parliament, he added, MPs might get engaged in political horse trading to see Pakatan Harapan (PH) retake Putrajaya.
He said this would cause the government’s administration to be dysfunctional and warned of its effect on “good programmes” launched by Putrajaya to aid the people.
“All that will change dramatically because you’ll have a different government.”
Chandra maintained that the Perikatan Nasional government was ethically wrong in the way it came into power.
However, he said, overthrowing it in the midst of a global crisis would bring with it dire consequences.
“This is why I would rather Muhyiddin and his team, including civil servants in critical roles, such as the health director-general, be given all the latitude and support to carry on doing what they’re doing.”
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has accepted former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal for the motion of no-confidence, saying it was in line with Standing Order 27 (3).
However, the motion is unlikely to emerge during the single-day sitting of the Dewan Rakyat on May 18.
According to a standing order of the house, government business takes precedence over private members’ bills and motions and all other matters.