Parties supporting Anwar sign cooperation pact ahead of confidence vote

Iman Muttaqin Yusof
Kuala Lumpur
Parties supporting Anwar sign cooperation pact ahead of confidence vote Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (seated at center), joined by party leaders in his unity government, speaks to reporters after signing a cooperation agreement, in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Dec. 16, 2022.
[Photo courtesy the Prime Minister Office]

Parties backing Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim signed a cooperation agreement on Friday to ensure a stable government, days ahead of a confidence vote in parliament, the new PM announced.

The agreement was signed to ensure political stability, said Anwar, who heads a coalition government after last month’s national election saw his bloc win the most seats but not a parliamentary majority.

“This will enable the unity government to address any issue in parliament and beyond with one voice. … Our focus will be on good governance and to spearhead a more convincing economic growth,” Anwar told reporters after the signing ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office in Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya.

“I engaged with party leaders and am heartened by their trust and dedication. Even in the series of negotiations, it was not that difficult. We agreed on broad parameters and policies, including ensuring the government is stable.”

The agreement was signed by all parties and blocs that support and are part of the government headed by Anwar. The signatories were Barisan Nasional, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS), Pakatan Harapan and Warisan.

It calls for all the signatories’ MPs to back Anwar in the confidence vote, which he had promised to call in the first parliamentary session after the government came to power, and which begins Monday.

The agreement would potentially guarantee Anwar the support of 148 of the 222 lawmakers, more than enough to win the confidence vote.

Still, an anti-defection law passed this year to prevent MPs hopping from one party to another when it suits them, does not prevent entire parties or coalitions from shifting their loyalties.

Anwar is the fourth prime minister since 2020. Two previous governments in the recent past fell after they lost majority support.

The Nov. 19 general election produced a hung parliament with Anwar’s coalition winning 82 seats, followed by Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional coalition, which won 73. Neither bloc had the majority of 111 seats required to form a government, and other coalitions and parties dithered about allying with either side.

Following a four-day impasse, King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah stepped in and named Anwar as the head of Malaysia’s new “unity government” after holding a special meeting with fellow members of the Council of Rulers on Nov. 24.

After the king appointed Anwar, Muhyiddin, a former PM and another contender for the post, insisted that Anwar prove his support in parliament.

Stability not guaranteed

Political analysts said the agreement by no means guarantees stability.

James Chin, professor at the University of Tasmania, said the pact is not a document that can be enforced.

“If any parties break the agreement, there’s no way it could be brought to court saying they broke the agreement,” he told BenarNews.

“If any of the parties inside the current government want to move, they won’t be considered as breaking any law; they just break the MoU,” he said, referring to a memorandum of understanding.

Chin said the pact “is just a promise by the political parties that they will work together.”

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said the pact was “just a document for clarification of expectations.”

“It provides an aura of formality to the coalition government and not much else – indeed, not stability,” he told BenarNews.


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