Press Statement (27 February 2020): Unity Government is Dictatorial – Reform Party System, Not Ditch It

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) expresses again our objection to Tun Dr Mahathir’s wish to form a unity government that put aside partisan politics and appoint the best from all parties to in his Cabinet should he be given another chance. Such a unity government that comprise of members from all parties would also nullify the mandate given to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) by voters in GE14, and as such we call on the people to reject such a government.

While the motivation for such a proposal may be noble given the political and economic crisis, Bersih 2.0 has in a statement on 25th February clearly expressed our objection to such a notion as it would effectively give the PM dictatorial powers with no accountability.

Nonetheless, the spirit of fairplay and accommodation among even political foes should be fostered for the good of the nation, and to ensure accountability appointments to the new Cabinet should be based on merits only from the governing component parties.

Parties in Opposition should play their important role of holding the government accountable and push for policies and reforms that would strengthen our institutions and bring prosperity to all. Opposition parties that cannot sign up to the ruling coalition’s agenda or want to keep their independence may still contribute to stability with some “confidence and supply” deal with the ruling coalition, meaning their commitment to support the government on vote of confidence and budget (supply bill).

Regardless the leadership and composition of the next government, they should ensure our political system is reformed to remove the cause of this political impasse: the winner-takes-all nature of our political system that sends politicians to cut each other’s throat.

Ditching or sidelining political parties is not the solution to the political impasse. Fixing the political system to enable responsible party politics is. The 15th General Election (GE15) should be fought with deep reforms in the power and term limit of Prime Minister and Chief Ministers, the power of the Parliament and state legislatures, the division of power between Federal and State Governments, and the electoral system that allows even coalition to partners to contest against each other if they choose to.

Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0