Pakatan OK if Ismail Sabri govt seeks to extend cooperation beyond next July 31, says DAP MP

DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke today said the date was given in the recent inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is not a deadline, but a consensual agreement that the government will not dissolve Parliament before then. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke today said the date was given in the recent inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is not a deadline, but a consensual agreement that the government will not dissolve Parliament before then. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 16 — The Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition will have no problem if the government wishes to extend their agreement for cross-party cooperation beyond July 31 next year.     

DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke today said the date was given in the recent inked Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is not a deadline, but a consensual agreement that the government will not dissolve Parliament before then.

“There is nothing to stop them dragging it until the end of this term in June 2023, and we are OK with it.

“If the government asks for more time, and wants to dissolve Parliament only when the term ends, we do not have a problem with that,” he said in a webinar today organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Incorporated titled “MoU — A Pathway to Transformation and Stability”.

“This is because we do not take away the power to dissolve Parliament from the prime minister. But what we ask for is just his commitment not to dissolve Parliament before July 31. So if he wants more time, if he wants to wait until the end of the term, so be it,” Loke added.

The webinar was a dialogue between the PH coalition and the government following the signing of the historic cooperation deal on September 13 in which the Opposition would assist the Ismail Sabri administration to carry out institutional reforms.

Loke said that the execution of the reforms is a matter of willpower, adding that he is confident that de facto law minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar will come through on the agreements made in the MoU.

“It is whether we want to do it, or whether we do not want to do it. For this MoU, we have talked about it for one year, but nothing happened. But once we got in motion, we got it done within three weeks. So it’s a question of will.

“I think if we want to talk about whether we have enough time, I think if we give our cooperation, and Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi is giving his commitment, and I think he’s very passionate about reforms, I’m sure it can be done,” the Seremban MP said.

Umno’s Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, who was a panellist, agreed with Loke,  and said there is enough manpower on both sides to lift the load from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

“I always believe that if there’s a will, there’s a way. I also know that sometimes the AGC doesn’t have enough manpower and it takes a long time, so maybe we can outsource drafting as we have experts on both sides,” she said.

Wan Junaidi, who was also in the panel, said he had discussed with the AGC on the possibility of fast tracking certain Bills to accommodate other reforms mentioned in the MoU.

He said priority is on the reform proposals to restore Parliament’s independence, limit the prime minister’s tenure in office, and a proposal for recall elections, which aims to return the right to choose an elected representative back in the hands of the constituents if the elected lawmaker switches party’s mid-term.

Wan Junaidi said he is confident that the reforms will go through in the short time frame given.

“Another is on MA63, to address some of the grouses and complaints made by our friends in Sarawak and Sabah. I believe in people, I trust people. I believe in the word rather than a signature,” the Santubong MP said, referring to the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“So I think in terms of the law, I don’t think that the PH group will renege into the previous agreement so long as it’s going along what they say. We show them the bill, let them read it, let them tell us what is the best option as we go along,” he added.

The MoU to ink their bipartisan cooperation signed last Monday was to signal the start of political stability for Malaysia and to enable bipartisan work on Malaysia’s economic recovery efforts in the Covid-19 pandemic.

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