Umno’s Nazri Aziz pledges parliamentary support for Muhyiddin to avert ‘dictatorship through the backdoor’

Nazri is the latest in a growing chorus of Umno leaders who have voiced opposition to the move, echoing criticism that emergency rule would have grave ramifications . — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Nazri is the latest in a growing chorus of Umno leaders who have voiced opposition to the move, echoing criticism that emergency rule would have grave ramifications . — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Former minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has pledged to persuade his party colleagues to back Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when he tables his maiden Budget scheduled for November, in a bid to prevent the prime minister from invoking emergency rule.

Nazri, the party’s member of parliament for Padang Rengas, said the offer was made on the back of fears about a “dictatorship through the backdoor” should Emergency be declared, which he vehemently opposed.

The former law minister has guaranteed Muhyiddin the votes of 23 Barisan Nasional MPs including from himself, a proposition intended to assure the embattled prime minister that he would be given the space — at least for now — to steer his government amid a worsening Covid-19 pandemic.

“I will persuade the backbenchers to heed the Yang Dipertuan Agong’s advice that we focus on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic so that whatever it is, it benefits the people,” Nazri told Malay Mail.

“I will ensure 23 BN backbenchers support the (2021) Budget and all the Bills because we don’t want to have a dictatorship through the backdoor.”

Still, Muhyiddin will need the support of more than just the 23 MPs to remain in power.

The Perikatan Nasional now has 50 seats. At best, the coalition comprising Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, PAS, and STAR would have about 91 seats when combined with the blocs from Sarawak, Sabah, as well as the 23 BN MPs.

Although Muhyiddin’s majority in parliament was never clearly established, it is believed that he had the support of 113 MPs, just one more than the required number to form the government by simple majority.

Prevailing rumours emerged on Wednesday that Muhyiddin would seek to invoke “emergency powers” to prop up his administration that was under challenge from Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

These rumours accelerated after Muhyddin rushed to meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in the Pahang palace on Friday, which led to a meeting of the Conference of Malay Rulers today.

The plan has met with resistance from politicians both past and present, civil society groups, professional associations, and members of the public.

Nazri is the latest in a growing chorus of Umno leaders who have voiced opposition to the move, echoing criticism that emergency rule would have grave ramifications that would erode democratic institutions like Parliament.

The former minister argued the justification that a declaration of emergency is needed to curb the pandemic was a flimsy excuse, and that powers that would risk the creation of draconian ordinances must only be invoked on strict preconditions that showed genuine threats to the country and its people.

“You look at Germany or France and you can see their situation is much worse than us, but they haven’t enforced emergency rules, have they?” Nazri said.

“So why would we do that? We have sufficient laws to deal with the pandemic now. Are you saying we are incapable of dealing with the pandemic?” the Umno leader added.

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