By Nuradzimmah Daim and Hana Naz Harun | New Straits Times
The country’s political conundrum will remain at a stalemate unless any Member of Parliament (MP) can prove that he or she has majority support, ahead of the vote of confidence in Parliament next month.
This was the view of two experts following Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s call for bipartisan cooperation, which was met with objection by the opposition.
Prominent lawyer Edmund Bon said there was no need for the prime minister to resign “even if he admitted to losing majority”.
He said this status quo remained unless two scenarios happen after this point: that Muhyiddin either calls for a general election but is rejected by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah; or if any MP steps forward to claim majority and is accepted by the King.
“Any MP can prove he or she has the majority before the King now to become PM (Prime Minister). Nothing to stop him or her from doing that now.
“Once the MP with majority is accepted by the King, the current PM may resign or seek dissolution and if refused, is deemed to have resigned. The new PM will be appointed,” said the former Representative of Malaysia to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).
He said MPs should demand more reforms from the Prime Minister.
He cited the Perak constitutional crisis in 2009, where the embattled Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin sought the consent of the Sultan of Perak to dissolve the state legislative assembly and call for fresh elections to resolve the political impasse.
The then Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak sought an audience with the Perak ruler to prove BN’s majority, and the events eventually led to Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir being appointed as the new MB.
The crisis was triggered when three Perak assemblymen, who had previously supported Nizar’s administration, announced they were becoming independent and that they would support the BN, causing the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government to lose the majority support.
Meanwhile, political analyst Dr Ainul Adzellie Hasnul said the opposition should at least consider Muhyiddin’s suggestions instead of downright rejecting them.
“Muhyiddin has in a way extended an olive branch by proposing bipartisan cooperation with all parties. It also shows that he is serious in making reforms, while protecting the people’s interest when announcing the plan.”
Dr Ainul raised a possibility of a hung Parliament if no simple majority was obtained during the vote of confidence next month, like what the United Kingdom experienced in 2017.
A hung UK Parliament had occurred for the second time in seven years with the Conservatives, led by Theresa May, who formed a minority government, supported by a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.
“If this happens, it will pose difficulty for the government’s decision-making process, especially in managing COVID-19, and could impact the tabling of next year’s budget.
“Given the current pandemic situation, the opposition should put the people’s needs first and at least consider the proposal announced by PM.”
Ainul said regardless of the outcome, all political parties would be able to participate in the general election in determining the people’s support, expected to be held next year.
In the meantime, the opposition parties should review the proposals by Muhyiddin like the anti-hopping law and limiting a Prime Minister’s tenure to two terms that would also be beneficial to them, he said.
Muhyiddin had on Friday said his legitimacy as Prime Minister could only be proved through bipartisan support at the Dewan Rakyat.
During a televised address, he had said the decision to negotiate with leaders of political parties other than Perikatan Nasional (PN) was made via consensus after discussion with cabinet members and PN party leaders.
Muhyiddin also proposed a seven-point cross-party framework for bipartisan cooperation, including equal allocation for MPs to carry out their programmes and bolster healthcare system, stressing the importance of protecting the interest of the people.
Pakatan Harapan however rejected the offer and reiterated its call for Muhyiddin’s resignation.
He had also pointed out that there was not one MP who could prove he or she possessed the majority support to be appointed as the next Prime Minister.