By Mariam Mokhtar
One year after he seized power in the infamous Sheraton Move, Muhyiddin Yassin, the self-proclaimed prime minister, has another crisis on his hands.
Two Umno-Baru MPs (Machang and Padang Rengas) withdrew their support for him within three days of one another.
Without majority rule, Muhyiddin has lost the mandate of his own cabinet. He was never the rakyat's choice for PM, but is now forced to consolidate his position, Muhyiddin then advised the King to proclaim Emergency Rule.
The official reason was to contain the coronavirus pandemic, but most social and political observers as well as members of the business community suspect that the disease is a smoke screen for Muhyiddin to hang on to power.
On the evening of 11 January 2021, Malaysians were told that eight states would be placed under a more restricted Movement Control Order (MCO), but the next morning, Malaysia was placed under Emergency Rule for the next eight months until 1 August. Parliament has also been suspended.
During Emergency Rule, Muhyiddin and PN are safe.
Was this Emergency Rule a coincidence, or was Muhyiddin prompted into action because of the Umno-Baru desertion?
Under normal circumstances, Muhyiddin and his cabinet should resign and an election be triggered; but few can stomach another election.
During the Sabah state election, coronavirus spread like wildfire.
Muhyiddin is probably hoping that in a few months' time, when people have been vaccinated and normality returns, the rakyat will forget about these troubled times.
Emergency Rule has given Muhyiddin a brief respite.
Unlike most people, Muhyiddin is aware that the Malaysian economic situation will probably kill more people than the virus.
People have been made redundant, businesses are closing down, and people have been using their savings to live, to pay their house rental and feed their families. Many are starving and many suffer from mental-health trauma because of the uncertain future.
How will Muhyiddin and his finance minister Zafrul Abdul Aziz save Malaysia?One way is to undo at least 50 years of affirmative action policies; but will they?
On a local level, bigoted politicians demand alcohol and non-halal items be removed from shelves in shops. Unprecedented attacks on some legitimate businesses do not inspire confidence in the business world or the consumers.
When the Negeri Sembilan religious affairs department invaded a kopitiam because it was reported that several Muslims were patronizing the premises, what does that say about the official intrusion into our private lives?
With religion being abused to target non-Malay/Muslim businesses, few have confidence in the government.
On an international level, Zafrul invited criticism for his empty boasts in LinkedIn about the amount of foreign investment and investors' confidence in Malaysia.
He claimed that Malaysia had attracted RM109.8 billion investment in the first nine months of 2020.
He invited ridicule from investors by saying, "How's that for investors' continued confidence in Malaysia?"
Is Zafrul avoiding the bigger picture?
Malaysia is bypassed by foreign investors. They prefer to build their factories, invest hundreds of millions of USD and share their expertise with our neighbors such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Zafrul must ask himself, "Why are we failing to attract foreign investors? Why are heavyweight US companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, PayPal and Tesla investing in Indonesia?
"PRC giants like Alibaba and Tencent are also in Indonesia, and President Jokowi of Indonesia has invited Tesla boss Elon Musk to build his launch site for the SpaceX rocket in Indonesia."
Instead of Zafrul making more empty boasts about our declining economic health, he should have impressed upon his boss the need to think in the long term for the good of the nation.
Most importantly, will they get rid of the NEP? Do they have the political will to stamp out cronyism, nepotism and prosecute corrupt leaders and civil servants?
Foreign governments complain about our treatment of migrant workers, but our own government turns a blind eye to the mushrooming of illegal factories. Some of these illegal entities are protected by those in power!
All investors are wary of countries which breed kleptocrats and do not punish them. They are charged but spared jailed, like the felon Najib Abdul Razak.
Many politicians steal from the Malaysian taxpayers, but only the small fry are prosecuted. We ill-treat our workers, and abuse our environment.
Some MBs pick fights with neighboring states and threaten them with diverting a river. All factories need a steady supply of water.
Religion is abused to threaten the rakyat and by extension, some companies like the Cadbury chocolates scare, of 2014.
We inflate the cost of projects because some politicians, their families and friends demand their share of the profits.
We promote someone not because he is competent but because he has the right 'R' (choose from "race, religion, royalty").
We take shortcuts when building roads and bridges. When these collapse, the blame-game starts.
Our political landscape is very toxic and unstable. Businesses need a peaceful and steady climate to thrive, but Malaysia does not have that.
1. The Edge Markets: Machang MP withdraws support for PN govt
2. MalaysiaKini: Nazri withdraws support for Muhyiddin, PN
3. South China Morning Post: Why are Google and Amazon investing in Indonesia's tech unicorns? Because Alibaba and Tencent are too
4. Nikkei Asia: Indonesia's unicorns lure US tech giants from Google to Facebook
5. Malay Mail: PM announces fresh MCO in six states, CMCO in six more from Jan 13
6. Free Malaysia Today: Agong declares emergency until Aug 1 to curb Covid-19 spread
7. MalaysiaKini: Zafrul's post on high foreign investment invites backlash, ridicule
8. New Straits Times: Guan Eng: Kedah MB incompetent, a big bully
9. MalaysiaKini: Cadbury, seek redress for pig DNA flip-flop
10. New Straits Times: 'Rosmah wanted RM187.5 million for solar hybrid project'
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)