Umno and DAP call for national reconciliation

Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi – Picture from The Star

By John Isaac

BOTH Umno and DAP, bitter political rivals, have called for national reconciliation.

This is after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong rejected Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s bid to declare a state of emergency and instead urged politicians to closed ranks in the fight against Covid-19.

Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, after a meeting of party leaders, hailed the monarch’s wisdom and also took cognisance of the ruler’s call for a political ceasefire.

“This episode is a lesson for us that in making any major move, the government must go through a consultation process in order to secure consensus from all quarters.

“Therefore, there must now be a national reconciliation process covering the areas of political agenda, economy, social and security,” he said in a statement reported by Malaysiakini.

Zahid, who is also the Bagan Datuk MP, urged all political leaders who are sincere to focus on the fight against Covid-19.

Muhyiddin had on Friday proposed to the Agong to declare a state emergency.

The government had framed it as necessary to combat Covid-19 but critics claimed it was an attempt to cling on to power amid speculations that a group of rebel Umno MPs were planning to turn against Muhyiddin, which will cause him to lose his already fragile majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

The Agong, after consultation with other state rulers, rejected Muhyiddin’s request yesterday evening.

Meanwhile, DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke said Muhyiddin and his cabinet can no longer go on with “business as usual”.

Anthony Loke – Picture from The Star

In a separate statement, Loke said failing to convince the Agong must have been a massive blow to Muhyiddin but he could salvage things now by “engaging” the opposition.

“I repeat my call for all parties that are represented in Parliament must be ready to sit down at the negotiation table together to find the best formula to achieve certain objectives and understanding,” said Loke.

Loke mooted three topics to start negotiations for what he termed as a “national consensus”:

1) An agreement that the 15th general election is not held until 2023;

2) Agree that the parliamentary system must be defended and function normally in accordance with the Federal Constitution at all times; and

3) Agree to achieve a consensus to plan and approve Budget 2021 and other bills.

This is the third time Loke had called for all parties to work together since Aug 13 and Oct 22.

So far, DAP and Warisan are the only two opposition parties to have appealed to Muhyiddin to reach out across the floor.

Earlier, DAP central working committee veteran Lim Kit Siang had similarly urged Muhyiddin to work out a “confidence and supply” arrangement with the opposition while Warisan president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal urged all parties to work together.

The next Dewan Rakyat sitting will begin on Nov 2. Budget 2021 was slated to be tabled on Nov 6 with voting on Nov 17.

As of today, it is uncertain if Muhyiddin has the numbers to pass the budget without a “confidence and supply” arrangement.

Meanwhile, Loke lauded the decision by the Agong and the Council of Rulers, but warned that no one should take advantage of the situation and respect the explicit decree of the Agong for rival politicians to put aside their differences.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of the country and an umbrella for all Malaysians. His Majesty has shown leadership which must be respected.

“Now it is time for political leaders to heed His Majesty’s advice to achieve a ‘national consensus’ for the good of the country,” he said.

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