Let’s discuss the possibility of a national unity government in Malaysia.
Are you done laughing or scratching your head because it honestly is a crazy and unheard of suggestion? If so, then we’ll continue.
What is a National Unity Government?
A national unity government is defined as a coalition government made up of all major parties in the legislature, usually during a national emergency or time of war.
In Malaysia, that could mean a government that consists of at the very least MPs from DAP, Umno, and PKR.
It could also include any MPs from Bersatu, PAS, GPS, Amanah, Warisan, and even the smaller parties of GBS, UPKO, PSB, MCA, and MIC.
With Cabinet members made up of MPs from different parties, there would also be no real opposition.
Instead, all other MPs would be considered backbenchers serving as the checks and balances.
If you’ve watched the series finale of Game of Thrones, it’s pretty much that.
Why wouldn’t it work?
Simply put, just like the Game of Thrones ending, it would be universally hated.
With no clear majority, there would be no real winners and no real losers. Instead everyone would have to compromise.
Furthermore, going through the legislative process would prove almost impossible without cutting deals as there would be no way to guarantee the simple majority vote needed to pass a law or policy.
How could it work?
With MPs on both sides of the divide voicing their support for interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he could logically pick and choose his Cabinet from among the best regardless of political party.
They would not need to pledge alliegance to any coalition, and could simply follow his leadership.
It wouldn’t have to last very long either as it could be a temporary fix, buying time for everyone to think things through and pick a side or call for elections without rushing.
That’s still crazy
No doubt it sounds like a farfetched solution but it has been done before in other countries like the UK, which has the same political system as Malaysia’s.
When discussing the idea with Tan Sri Shahrir Samad’s former special officer, Asyraf Adlan, he likened a national unity government in Malaysia’s political landscape to a ticking time bomb.
“It’s not a good solution for long term. I personally think it is impossible to achieve conciliation among Malaysian MPs from various parties working together for the betterment of the country.
“They will be too busy politicking against each other,” said Asyraf, who is also a former youth parliamentarian.
He added that the process of check and balance should happen between the government and opposition but if that was not possible, then a third entity that consists of both.
So, better than nothing in the short term?
And if I had told you a week ago that on February 25, 2020, Malaysia would have an interim Prime Minister with no political party and no Cabinet, you would have said I was crazy then, too.