When opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claimed on September 23 that he has in his possession the majority Member of Parliaments required to topple the backdoor government of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, not everyone took the threat seriously. After all, Mr. Anwar had cried wolf before – about 12 years ago in 2008 on the same matter.
Back in September 16, 2008, opposition leader Anwar announced that he had enough parliamentary support to topple the Abdullah Badawi government and urged the prime minister to give up power peacefully. Mr. Anwar needed 30 MPs to defect and join his now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition of 82 members. It failed to materialise, of course.
As much as one likes to rubbish Anwar’s threat this round, not everyone thinks his threat is purely rhetorical. Unlike 12 years ago, this time his claim is being supported by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the UMNO president and chairman of Barisan Nasional (National Front), which controls a substantial majority of MPs within Muhyiddin-led Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance) coalition.
Muhyiddin’s National Alliance ruling government has only razor-thin 2-majority vote – 113 MPs in the 222-seat Parliament – since the loosely glued coalition was formed to snatch power via a political coup from the legitimate and democratically voted Pakatan Harapan government. Barisan Nasional, one of two allies of Muhyiddin, has 42 MPs, hence it’s not hard to see why the government could easily collapse.
Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) – comprising his People’s Justice Party (PKR), the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the National Trust Party – held 91 seats. Essentially, the PM-in-waiting needs only 21 MPs from Muhyiddin’s government to defect and join him. But that does not mean Anwar must show he has 112 MPs, the minimum needed to form a simple-majority government.
EASIER WAY & KEEPING MUM
There’s a much easier way – get at least 2 MPs currently supporting the federal government to declare that they have lost confidence in Muhyiddin administration. That would reduce Muhyiddin’s majority to 111 MPs in the Parliament, effectively overthrows the backdoor prime minister. Of course, this is assuming none of the opposition MPs will cross over to help Muhyiddin.
That explains why Muhyiddin insists that Anwar needs to prove he has parliamentary majority. By putting the burden of proof on Anwar, the backdoor PM knows it would be near to impossible for the PM-in-waiting to show his number because Muhyiddin’s appointed House Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun is under instruction not to allow any motion of “no confidence” against his boss.
Instead of asking Anwar to prove his majority, exactly why Muhyiddin can’t move a motion of “confidence” for himself to prove his legitimacy once and for all? For months, the disgraced Speaker has repeatedly placed the motion at the bottom of the agenda. Therefore, seeking a confidence vote in the Parliament was a non-starter from the beginning due to Muhyiddin’s cowardice.
But there are valid reasons why Anwar should not reveal his card at this moment, even if he has the numbers (speculated to be 129 MPs) behind him. The first thing Muhyiddin regime will do is to bribe, cajole, intimidate, and threaten MPs revealed to have crossed over to Anwar’s camp. For lust of power, those who walk the corridors of power could even make certain people “disappear”.
That would leave the Malaysia’s monarch, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, with two options – to dissolve the Parliament, leading to a nationwide election within 60 days, or to appoint a new prime minister (presumably Anwar can convince King Sultan Abdullah that he commands the confidence of the majority of the MPs).
THREATENED TO DISSOLVE PARLIAMENT
Interestingly, after Anwar’s stunning revelation, Muhyiddin has threatened to advise the King to dissolve the Parliament. The PM’s warning was to send a message that he would rather call a snap election, even if he will lose, rather than to hand over the throne peacefully and nicely wrapped to Anwar. This is another giveaway that the PM panicked – lending credence that Anwar has the numbers.
Therefore, instead of choosing the option to dissolve Parliament, the monarch can choose another option – to appoint a new prime minister, according to Article 40 (s) of the Federal Constitution. The King can appoint a Member of Parliament who, in his judgement, is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House of Representative).
Now, this is where things get interesting. Desperate Muhyiddin supporters have argued that the Agong is not obligated to meet opposition leader Anwar over his so-called crazy claim. However, the Palace has admitted that the monarch had postponed – NOT rejected – his meeting with Anwar on September 24 as he had to undergo treatment at the National Heart Institute (IJN).
The king has since been discharged three days ago (Oct 2). But the whole drama has created a perception that the monarch was under the influence of Muhyiddin not to meet Anwar for obvious reason. The Palace cannot delay the meeting indefinitely as the monarch might be accused as a corrupt king who is biased and does not treat Anwar fairly and justly.
6 GHOST MPs & A ‘ROYAL COUP’
Yes, someone was lying some 7 months ago (Feb 29) when both sides claimed to have the support of 114 MPs. But the Parliament has only maximum 222 seats, thus there were 6 ghost MPs. However, Mahathir had pre-emptively published the list of 114 MPs who supported him as the next prime minister, along with a letter to the Palace. Muhyiddin failed to do the same, but was sworn in anyway.
It got so bad that British newspaper The Guardian called it a “Royal Coup” – accusing King Sultan Abdullah of overturning a democratic election result that challenged a corrupt old order. Hence, it would be a huge mistake if the same monarch refuses to meet Anwar as such move will prove what the British news media had claimed in March to be legitimate and true.
In the same breath, Sultan Abdullah should not dissolve Parliament even if the backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin advises him to do so. The reason is very simple – all the blames will be on the monarch if new clusters of Covid-19 infections happen during a nationwide election, which is not due until 2023. And based on the Sabah state election, spikes of infections will definitely happen.
If even a minor state election in Sabah was capable of triggering record high 317 new cases (Oct 3), a nationwide election could certainly trigger new waves of infection cases in the thousands. It would certainly be hypocritical for the King to agree to a snap election when the same monarch has been expressing his concerns over the increase of Covid-19 cases due to Sabah Clusters.