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Malaysia: Will new polls be triggered by the defeat of security bill in Parliament?

After a security bill was defeated in Parliament, the week in politics, which was dominated by party conventions, ended with huge concern for the country’s political stability.

This has generated a serious schism in the ruling coalition, and there’s a chance that a pact struck between Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and the opposition Pakatan Harapan may fall apart, forcing the country to have fresh elections.

This is something neither Sabri nor the opposition parties want to see happen, especially while the country is currently fighting the endemic stage of COVID-19.

Furthermore, this will be terrible news for the opposition, since they fear losing more seats in Parliament if elections are conducted shortly.

In a coup against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration in 2020, the PH lost scores of MPs who defected.

With minimal attendance in most of Malaysia’s by-elections so far, there’s no way the country would witness a vigorous and healthy contest in any future snap elections. That is as long as COVID is around.

It will be to the benefit of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which will employ all government machinery and facilities at its disposal to easily win the elections.

Pro-election campaigners in the administration of Sabri, on the other side, are pressuring the Prime Minister to dissolve parliament. The opposition, they claim, voted against the SOSMA security law.

According to Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Anthony Loke, the Opposition group should not be blamed for the failure of a resolution for a security provision introduced in parliament on Wednesday (Mar 23).

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The failure to pass the motion, according to the newly appointed secretary-general, should not be seen as the opposition group failing to fulfil its commitments under the bipartisan Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated with the administration last year.

Loke stated in parliament on Thursday that he did not anticipate the government to lose the vote to prolong the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMAenforcement )’s since they still had a majority in the august house,

But several top government figures, including ex-PM Najib Razak whose government initiated the SOSMA Act and ex-PM Muhyiddin Yassin as well as Azmin Ali, a powerful minister under both Mahathir and Muhyiddin, were not present in Parliament when the SOSMA was put to vote.

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After being put to a bloc vote, Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin’s move to prolong the enforcement of powers to hold suspects for up to 28 days without trial for another five years, commencing July 31, was defeated.

On his part, Hamzah is blaming pro-government MPs for the failure to vote the motion. He says many in the government bench do not like to see his face, that is why they did not come to the Parliament to vote on that day.

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