THE current turmoil surrounding the political arena pretzelled yesterday into a tangle of knots when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigned as the seventh prime minister.
Amidst talk of a “government breakdown” and hung Parliament, this development is just another dramatic turn of events since conversations about a “unity government” surfaced last month.
The drama unfolding is worthy of a Shakespearean play. International observers might find it amusing, some might even struggle to stifle a grin, but for Malaysians the trauma of uncertainty is hard to overstate.
The revelation by Lim Guan Eng and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim about moves to topple the Pakatan Harapan government by groups within and without is eliciting responses that are poles apart.
Some say it shows democracy is working. Others, however, will argue stridently that it is unethical.
The king accepted Dr Mahathir’s resignation, but has reappointed him as interim prime minister to manage the country’s administration until a new prime minister is appointed and the cabinet formed.
The political uncertainty that has besetted Malaysia for some time is mainly fuelled, according to some accounts, by the reluctance of Dr Mahathir to step down in favour of Anwar, as agreed to by all parties in PH before they won the 2018 general election.
This newspaper has been consistent in its reports that Dr Mahathir intends to cede the post after the November Apec summit.
Constitutionally, the backdoor approach of gaining support from parliamentarians to form a “new alignment” is not wrong.
Lawyers have even remarked that it is “not illegal” and political analysts say “it is part and parcel of a mature democracy and has happened in the free and democratic countries of Europe and Australia”.
Changing governments in midterm often happens, too, as long as the new group of political parties can muster a simple majority of members of parliament, says an analyst. But there are also many others who think this is bad for democracy.
Regardless. There is still that cloud of uncertainty, the “unstable political environment that is undermining investor confidence, consumer sentiments and the pace of economic development”.
Yesterday, the Malaysian stock market fell more than two per cent to its lowest level since 2010, and the ringgit plunged following reports of a “new government”.
This Leader urges Malaysians to remain calm.
Political strife and intrigues must end immediately so that affairs of the state can take precedence.
Can’t our politicians see the global tumult — economic headwinds and Covid-19? The world is walking a tightrope. Should the perfect storm manifest itself, all hell will break loose.
The nation needs stability. This can happen only if we have a government that can put the economy back on an even keel.
A new government may give the prime minister a chance to put the people’s minds at ease, at least for a time. But there are also voices saying that such a government may not last.
We say this to all politicians: the good of the nation must always take precedence. Anything less is unacceptable.
Malaysia needs a government that serves all the people, and a credible leader who is able to command the confidence of the majority.