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Unity Government

Updated: Jun 9, 2023

For the sake of the country and the rakyat, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong requested on 20th November 2022 that Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional form a unity government, and on 21st November 2022 that Barisan National join that government. This request is honorable and intriguing because it may be the only way to move the country forward given the current political impasse.

Parties do not have to compromise on their beliefs and policies to serve in a unity administration. Instead, they may come to an agreement on a common manifesto that would include as many of their pledges as possible. In addition to ensuring that voters don’t feel duped, this enables the parties to uphold their ideals and policies.

So, what is a Unity Government?

How will we divide authority and responsibility is one of the most crucial questions to a new community, government, or country must ask itself. With the responsibility to combine forces with all elected political parties and all elected independent politicians in the government and collaborate with all key aspects and structures, a portion of each elected political party politician and a portion of each elected independent politician are represented in the cabinet to work together and choose to create optimal health, democracy, human rights, right to life, and shared prosperity for all people in the country voted.

A loose coalition or grand coalition sometimes known as a “post-election coalition” is the establishment of a government that includes a variety of parties and coalitions.

The Federal Constitution’s Article 43(2)(a) on the selection of the Prime Minister would be the first thing to be reviewed to build a unity government.

Federal Constitution’s Article 43(2)(a)

The Cabinet shall be appointed as follows, that is to say:

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong must first name a member of the House of Representatives who, in his opinion, is likely to enjoy the trust of the majority of members of the House as Prime Minister, who will preside over the Cabinet”.

Political parties were not thought to be important when choosing the Prime Minister until the new Article 49A in the anti-hopping statute was introduced because Article 43(2)(a) meant a “government of MP”(Member of Parliament).The Federal Constitution now explicitly recognizes political parties as constitutional actors in the appointment of the prime minister and formation of the government with the introduction of the amended Article 10 on restrictions on MPs’ ability to hop parties, Article 49A, and the introduction of the term “political party” under Article 160.

Federal Constitution’s Article 49A:

(1) A member of the House of Representatives shall, according to the terms of this Article, cease to be a member of that House, and seat shall become empty on the date the Speaker establishes a casual vacancy under Clause,(3) if:

(a) Having been elected to the House of Representatives as a member of a political party

(i)He resigns as a member of the political party; or

(ii)He ceases to be a member of the political party; or

(b) Having been elected to the House of Representatives otherwise than as a member of a political party, he joins a political party as a member.

(2) A member of the House of Representatives shall not cease to be a member of that House pursuant to this Article only by reason of –

(a) The dissolution or cancellation of the registration of his political party;

(b) His resignation from the membership of his political party upon election as a speaker; or

(c) The expulsion of the membership of his political party.

This Act came into effect on 5th Oct 2022.

Now we know what unity government is and the Federal Constitution Article 49A. Let us get a better understanding in unity government, there are other variants and options available to the parties.

Option 1: A grand coalition government or unity government

Pakatan Harapan, Perikatan National, Barisan Nasional and the East Malaysia bloc of Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) are the four major political parties now.

If three or four of the major blocs agree to form a coalition, only then can the grand coalition government be formed.

But creating a unity government without a solid post-election coalition agreement carries certain potential concerns. The parties’ agreement should be made public for accountability and transparency.

Option 2: Strong majority government with responsible opposition

In a fully operational Parliament, a large minority of MPs remain in the opposition and serve in the Shadow Cabinet, while others form a coalition government that has the majority.

It is a scaled-back version of the grand coalition government’s inclusive arrangement for political unity that overcomes its drawbacks.

Additional benefits of this include:

The government can be more compact and competent while opposition MP’s can take up parliamentary committee positions, with committee positions, with committee chairs and deputy chairs paid an extra allowance. Check and balance are preserved through Parliament. Parties that cannot work together don’t have to be on the same team, it is possible for the government and opposition bloc to have a better working relationship.

Option 3: Weak majority/ minority government, plus CSA with the opposition.

A confident and supply agreement (CSA) with some opposition blocs allows the government to be maintained even though it has a weak majority or minority of seats and a substantial minority or even majority of MPs who remain in opposition.

It’s a scaled-back version of the “strong majority government with a responsible opposition” concept, but it gives some parties more latitude to do so while still being committed to the government’s survival under predetermined conditions.

Additional benefits for this include:

  1. Some parties can back to the Government without losing their uniqueness or difference.

  2. The CSA permits opposition MPs from the largest group to hold positions in the shadow cabinet or parliamentary committees, making government “slimmer”

  3. Check in balance will be government bills and motions can be easily defeated as long as such defeat doesn’t threaten the government’s survival.

As a nation, we must now achieve collaboration that embraces race, religion, and region as a symbol of respect for the King's edict. To do this, the political parties must now set aside their own personal ambitions and divisions and put the needs of the rakyat first.

Ref: No.40/2022


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