Muhyiddin’s options – resign with honour or prove numbers

PRIME Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has the option of resigning honourably as he may have a tough time proving he has the majority to remain as the head of government, said analysts.

This follows Umno’s announcement that his Perikatan Nasional (PN) government had effectively collapsed after enough MPs withdrew support for him, evidence of which the party had given to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Muhyiddin’s position as prime minister has lost its legitimacy and he should resign.

Ilham Centre executive director Hisommudin Bakar said under the current circumstances, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may ask Muhyiddin to prove he has the numbers.

The first is to resign and the second is to request for the Agong’s consent to dissolve Parliament.

“In the situation where Covid-19 cases are as high as it is now, the second choice is unlikely to be executed or approved,” Hisommudin told The Malaysian Insight.

“Hence the option is to resign gracefully. That way the PN cabinet will dissolve automatically,” he said, adding this would be the best option for Muhyiddin at this juncture.

Hisommudin said it would be difficult for the Bersatu president to prove he has majority support among the Dewan Rakyat’s 220 MPs following Umno’s announcement yesterday.

“It is unclear at this juncture who has the majority and the situation is best left to the king’s discretion,” he said.

Political scientist Dr Wong Chin Huat said the number of MPs backing Muhyiddin could shrink to double digits if the Bersatu chief is unable to reverse the losses.

“Up until last week, the government had only 114 seats (excluding Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah).

“Now, with the withdrawal of more Umno MPs, Muhyiddin has, at the most, 105.

“If he cannot reverse the loss of majority, his number is going to shrink to two digits in days to come. Certainly, more Umno parliamentarians may follow,” he added.

Muhyiddin is said to have the support of 114 or 115 out of 220 MPs, but this has yet to be tested with a vote of confidence.

Umno has 38 MPs, of which 16 are in the PN cabinet and are unlikely to withdraw their support for Muhyiddin.

Zahid earlier today did not state how many of the party’s MPs had withdrawn their support. Including himself, there were 11 Umno MPs present at his press conference earlier today.

Meanwhile, Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Dr Oh Ei Sun said Muhyiddin would likely not give in “just like that”.

“The Pagoh MP may argue that there is no vote of confidence moved against him in Parliament,” Oh said, adding that Muhyiddin has so far not let any motion for voting be allowed even when Parliament was in session.

Oh added that it would be unlikely Muhyiddin would call for a special Parliament sitting to prove he has the majority.

“I think now it’s up to the Agong to do the right thing. I refer to the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis whereby its governor-general dismissed a rogue PM,” he said.

“Those parties who have been supporting him now have to think twice,” Oh added.

Other parties in the PN government besides Umno and Muhyiddin’s Bersatu are PAS, MCA, MIC, PBRS, STAR, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak coalition, and Sabah’s PBS.

Senior Lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sabah Lee Kuok Tiung, said the public are frustrated with continuous politicking.

“Maybe Umno can give some clues on what next or what their plan is after withdrawing support from the PM and the government to help their grassroots to make a decision,” Lee said.

“For example, how about the GLC (government-linked companies) and the state and local government positions held by Umno now,” he added.

Wong said the question remains whether a new alternative could emerge.

“If there is, the new PM should immediately convene Parliament to table a motion of confidence to confirm his power and stabilise politics,” he said.

However, if another MP cannot command majority support, the power struggle will drag on with Muhyiddin staying on to survive as a “minority PM”.

“The uncertainty suggests the need for two constitutional or parliamentary mechanisms: a constructive vote of no-confidence where a government cannot be overthrown until an alternative government with majority is in store, and confidence and supply agreements for minority governments to survive,” he said. –TMI