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Beyond Politics and the Pandemic

1. For the past few weeks, we have heard a lot about the country’s political developments. These include demands by political leaders for Parliament to reconvene; while some have claimed they have the necessary numbers to form a new Government.

2. As the country is still caught in a pandemic, I believe these are not the headlines that Malaysians are hoping for. The people want us to focus on the management of Covid-19 and I share their hope in this matter.

3. There are many political issues being debated, and they have been consistent over the past year. It has been tiring and unfortunately, I have not been spared from it. In this short article, I will focus on the one topic that both sides are actively speaking about which is on Parliament.

4. Firstly – the political pressure to re-open Parliament must not be masked with hidden agendas. The call for Parliament to re-convene cannot be used as a tool just to satisfy the yearning for political power of certain individuals.

5. These efforts are not new, and we have seen it repeatedly over the years – most recent being in September 2020. They were too fixated on ‘strong, formidable, convincing’ numbers, absorbed in various scenarios, and assuring everyone that they are united to further their agenda in hopes of returning to power.

6. Secondly – Members of Parliament who have strongly pushed for the Session to reconvene must agree on collective responsibility to ensure the Parliamentary session is utilized entirely in the interest of Malaysia and its people especially in the management of Covid-19. Our country’s agenda is far more important than anyone’s personal ambitions.

7. This is important as Malaysians only hope for a way out of this crisis. It is on us as Members of Parliament to fulfill this hope. The people want cases to go down, they want lives to be saved and the economy to recover.

8. Thirdly - the situation we are in is so exceptional – we are facing a combination of a health crisis, economic crisis and political instability all at once. Constant politicking is something we just cannot afford at this time. As the Prime Minister and his Ministers puts forth the National Recovery Plan which aims to bring our country out of the pandemic – we should be supportive instead of skeptical. The Plan will only be successful if all parties work together to find a way out of the pandemic.

9. If we remain focused on the task at hand and share the same determination, I believe that we can fulfil this hope together.

10. I agree, in principle, that Parliament serves as an important check and balance to the Government. Parliament proceedings serve as a means for the Government to communicate and debate policies, to reach a common understanding with our fellow Parliamentary colleagues on a clear path forward in the best interests of all Malaysians.

11. Taking my points into consideration, one condition stands out which is the fact that we require stability. This stability may allow Parliament to re-open. This same stability may also give Members of Parliament the right to ask questions, and the Government to answer during Parliamentary sessions. But the most pertinent point is that this stability must not be hijacked.

12. I understand - this stability I am calling for will not last forever. But my plea is simple – just until the point when COVID-19 is settled.

13. But looking ahead, what is the country’s direction should changes in the political landscape happen? Will the National Recovery Plan be scrapped in spite just to come up with something new? A fragmented recovery plan for Covid-19 is sorely not needed.

14. In these trying times, Malaysians should not be dragged into the scene of yet another power struggle.

15. I am also aware that there are those have decided to attack me personally with numerous accusations and slander. Fake news has essentially become the nature of politics in this country. For me, passing the buck and pointing fingers to merely create a bad perception are merely ploys for selfish interests. Defamation only aims to distract and shift attention from solid deliberations and discussions on how to bring this country forward.

16. I cannot deny that it is disappointing and frustrating for me – we are navigating through hard times so why must we continue to politicise every issue? Indefinite politicking will not lead us anywhere.

17. We must practice a renewed approach in politics, and not to be stuck in ‘realpolitik’. This is the best time for us as politicians, on both sides of the divide, to prove that we can be better at our roles and show the people that we are here to serve.

18. So – as we deliberate on reopening Parliament, we must be prepared. The public must understand that it is not as simple as opening the hall and sitting down. As we explore the possibility of a ‘hybrid’ session – the Government must be given space to deliberate and plan implementation methods and processes to ensure the proceedings go smoothly.

19. As Members of Parliament it is on us, for better or for worse, to take collective responsibility on what emerges from the next session. It is on us to show the people that we are here in their best interests rather than personal ambitions.

20. If the opposition’s intention is to merely use Parliament to gain power instead of Parliament’s intended role of providing a constructive bipartisan discourse, then this would be a problem. I will not deny that the opposition has every right to throw criticisms, but political expediency at this point in time will not be judged well by the people.

Hishammuddin Hussein

16 June 2021


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