LETTER | What happens with Anwar on Tuesday?

Muhammad Rafique


LETTER | Nothing. Despite all the showmanship, guessing games, and the perennial quest for numbers, one has to bear in mind that we are after all in a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy, guided by the Rule of Law.

On Tuesday, the Constitution will come into play again. In all likelihood, at the royal audience granted to him, Anwar’s camp will endeavor to present to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah the much-vaunted (by Anwar's camp at least) ‘documentation of the strong and convincing majority of Members of Parliament’ supporting him as the prime minister over Muhyiddin.

However, at its highest, that can only trigger one of two events. And this can be seen from the workings of Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution. If Anwar’s camp is successful in evincing the alleged support via statutory declarations and/or letters of respective party whips, that alone cannot ensure that he walks out of Istana Negara as the 9th prime minister.

That can only confirm what has been an open secret all this while, that Muhyiddin never had the actual confidence of the majority of the parliamentarians, a fact which was made crystal on the morning of his swearing-in as the 8th prime minister when former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had irrefutable evidence of 114 MPs backing him to remain in the top post.

At this juncture, Muhyiddin will then be left with either requesting the King to dissolve the House, paving the way for another general election, or tender the resignation of his Cabinet. It is pertinent to state that only His Royal Highness the King can dissolve the House. Muhyiddin can only request so but the final say is with His Majesty.

With all due respect, even though a general election or a snap election is an option, but with Covid-19 rearing its ugly head again, it will burden the rakyat and stretch the resources of the government. The cost to carry out an election of this magnitude with new norms and SOPs will be staggering, using resources that can be better utilised to fight the current pandemic.

The King can then move on to another option, which is to use His Majesty’s discretion to appoint Muhyiddin’s replacement. And for this, His Royal Highness may refer to Article 43 of the Constitution again, albeit this time to appoint a new Cabinet headed by a new prime minister to carry out the executive authority of the Federation.

For this, the King may act in his own discretion, of course, guided by the Rule of Law. And that can be seen from a combination of Article 43(2)(a) and Article 55 of the Constitution. The Prime Minister is chosen from 221 parliamentarians (as it currently stands due to the untimely death of the member from Batu Sapi).

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah

And only the King may from “time to time summon Parliament…”. That is from Article 55 of the Constitution.

Hence, the only clear way to resolve the impasse is to have all 221 parliamentarians ensconced in the Dewan Rakyat and vote on the no-confidence motion filed by Langkawi (Mahathir) which has been buried beneath mundane Government bills and matters purely for Muhyiddin’s survival. Only when that motion has been carried then Muhyiddin has lost his majority.

Immediately the same 221 parliamentarians will then vote on whom amongst them wields the confidence of the majority of the House, which then will be presented to the King. That person will have open endorsement made public not by way of written undertaking and oaths which has been proven, on numerous occasions in the past, to be mere promises not kept.

The above scenario was the exact model Mahathir wanted to adopt when he suddenly resigned in February this year. One may recollect that upon tendering his resignation and being installed as the interim prime minister, the first order of business he angled for was to move Parliament for a special sitting by virtue of Standing Order 11(3) of the Dewan Rakyat.

The special sitting was to test his legitimacy as prime minister to resolve the conundrum faced by the country then. That was the Rule of Law. There was no press conference called, no congratulatory messages, or no so-called cabinet list floating about. Unfortunately the request for the special sitting was denied.

It is worth noting that the country needs a leader who is not afraid to make unpopular decisions for the good of the rakyat. Someone who has successfully navigated Malaysia through the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, the 1998-1999 Anwar sacking, the major watershed moment in our nation's history in May 2018, and indeed a leader who is until now looked upon by other countries to fight for the rights of the downtrodden.

The King has exhibited his acumen for the betterment of the rakyat and that will be tested again in the coming weeks.

So, whatever happens on Tuesday, let’s hope the Rule of Law prevails for the good of Malaysia. May the 9th prime minister, if there is to be one, be someone who is tried, tested, and will not be found wanting.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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