In rare show of support, MTUC calls survey on Tun M’s tenure as PM ‘inhumane’

Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Institut Darul Ehsan yesterday published its survey findings asserting that 75 per cent of the respondents want Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s term as prime minister to not go beyond two years. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC), the country’s biggest coalition of workers groups, criticised today the pollster behind a survey to gauge public expectation of how long Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should remain in office, calling it “inhumane” and disruptive to progress.

The union’s secretary-general J. Solomon said the survey by think tank Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) was detrimental to national efforts to put Malaysia back on the growth path, a rare display of support from a body often critical of the politician once known as a union-buster. 

“Despite having mostly first-timers as Cabinet ministers, Tun has done an excellent job so far, in the face of tremendous pressure and unprecedented scandals inherited from the previous government,” Solomon said in a statement.

The Selangor government think tank yesterday published its survey findings asserting that 75 per cent of the respondents want Dr Mahathir’s term as prime minister to not go beyond two years. 

Another 22 per cent said there was no need for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman to step down. A total of 1,597 people were interviewed in the survey.

IDE is seen as attached to the Selangor government.

Solomon appealed to Malaysians not be distracted by the survey. He said politics must not hinder national focus of economic recovery, “especially when the government under Tun has begun to deliver on (his) promises.”

“Tun may not have been the best friend of trade unions in the past but we now see that he and his cabinet members are giving due importance to workers and enabling trade unions to play a more vital role in the nation building,” the MTUC secretary-general said.

Pro-Mahathir supporters believe the timing of the survey’s release was suspicious and possibly linked to the infighting between factions backing the prime minister and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir’s announced successor.

Talk within political circles suggest the tension between the two stemmed from elements bent on blocking Anwar’s ascension, although Dr Mahathir has given repeated assurances that he would eventually step down and make way for his former deputy.

A sex video scandal implicating Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali is rumoured to be the manifestation of that strife. There is speculation that Azmin is now being groomed to take Anwar’s place as successor. 

The latter has denied the allegation while Anwar also insisted today that he has the backing of PH to succeed Dr Mahathir.

On the ground, social media comments appeared to indicate public disgust with the whole affair. 

Solomon suggested Malaysians felt there are more pressing matters to attend to, like empowering workers. 

The MTUC secretary-general added that it is senseless to mull about switching to a new prime minister, whom he described as a statesman, as the PH government has not even completed half of its five-year mandate won in May last year.

“I will also say it is inhumane to have all these surveys and incessant talk about a power transition when Tun is doing his best and the problems he faces are not his doing, but rather the result of abuses by the previous government,” Solomon said.

“What is needed now is for employers in the private sector to reciprocate the desire of this government to elevate the pathetic position of workers with dignified salaries and better working conditions.”

Concluding the statement with an indictment against all politicians, the MTUC said government or opposition figures must stop indulging extensively in unhealthy politics which will only retard the growth of the nation.

“The workers in this country urge all parties to stop politicising the lives of Malaysians and ensure all efforts are focused on repairing the country,” Solomon said.

“And not wasted on petty matters or inconsequential surveys where workers will eventually be the victims.” 

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