By Alyaa Alhadjri | Malaysiakini
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin cannot remain in office and seek a vote of confidence after conceding the loss of majority support, according to lawyers.
This was as Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution only stipulates two options for a Prime Minister who ceases to command majority support – to call for a fresh election or resign, along with the entire cabinet.
Lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla said Muhyiddin cannot choose to remain in office using the excuse that no other MPs have so far proven they receive majority support to be appointed as the next Prime Minister.
“That is the absolute discretion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“The Prime Minister must only decide whether to request for Parliament dissolution, and if that request is denied, to resign,” Haniff told Malaysiakini.
Earlier, Muhyiddin alluded to the withdrawal of support by Umno MPs for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, raising questions over the legitimacy of his Prime Minister’s post and the government.
Muhyiddin said the situation left him with two options, the easiest of which would be to resign.
Muhyiddin, however, said he chose to reach out for bipartisan support and pass a confidence motion in Parliament, as supposedly not a single MP commands a majority to be appointed as his replacement.
Commenting further, Haniff stressed that the Agong has absolute discretion to carry out his duties and decide on a replacement Prime Minister after Muhyiddin’s resignation.
“It is entirely up to the Agong. His wisdom will decide how to go about the process,” he said.
Similarly, lawyer New Sin Yew said Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution does not attach any condition to a resigning Prime Minister, except for the loss of confidence.
“The proper thing to do would be to resign and let the process of appointing the new Prime Minister take place,” he told Malaysiakini.
New stressed that Muhyiddin was mistaken to imply there was a need to wait for another candidate that commands majority support to appear before he resigns.
“Article 43(4) is very clear that he has to resign once he loses the confidence of the majority without any other condition,” the lawyer added.
Taking to Twitter, think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) chief executive officer Tricia Yeoh said Muhyiddin has admitted his loss of majority by calling for a confidence and supply agreement.
“(He said) support me and these are the things that you will get. Many of the reforms that civil society has been calling for.
“Goodies dished out for support. An admission he has no majority,” Yeoh tweeted.
She also questioned Muhyiddin’s statement that no MP has been able to receive majority support.
“The only sure way to tell is if you convene Parliament and do a vote of potential candidates.
“This should be as basic as voting in a class monitor,” she said.
The vote of confidence to test Muhyiddin’s majority in the Dewan Rakyat is scheduled for Sept 7.