PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has an edge over Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad with regard to support from Pakatan Harapan lawmakers, according to Perak exco member Abdul Aziz Bari.
“Most of the MPs from PKR, DAP and Amanah are with him. A number of Umno MPs too are quite likely to throw their support for him.
“The total number of these MPs has passed the 100 mark which means Anwar only needs 12 MPs from Sabah and Sarawak,” Aziz said in a statement to Malaysiakini.
As for Mahathir, the Perak DAP vice-chair said only Bersatu and PAS lawmakers have pledged their support for the prime minister.
“But the total is yet to hit the 100 mark.
“And the manoeuvres conducted by (PKR deputy president) Azmin (Ali) and (former Umno vice-president) Hishamuddin (Hussein) were not quite able to achieve their target. Apparently, the incumbent team seems to be struggling to get the minimum total of 112 MPs required to form the government,” he added.
In view of this, Aziz said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as the guardian of the constitution, is under a duty to determine who commands the support of the majority of the Lower House.
The former academician, who is an expert in constitutional law, said it is also crucial for the nation's stability.
“His Majesty may either call for a special session of parliament or ask both parties to furnish him the list of their supporters,” he added.
Can Dr M call snap polls to stop Anwar?
Aziz raised this issue due to the lingering doubts surrounding the succession plan between Mahathir and Anwar, despite the pair's repeated assurances that it would proceed as agreed.
“I find it hard to make sense that while matters pertaining to the palace and royal succession are being regulated by the provisions of the Constitution, democratic issues such as the office of prime minister has curiously been left to the agreement among politicians, part of which is rather anomalous.
“How could a minority be allowed to dictate terms and call the shots?
“Now as we are getting nowhere with regard to the transfer of power between Mahathir and Anwar. Perhaps it is time to look at the provisions of the Constitution.
“As a parliamentary democracy, what matters is what the provisions and their ideals state. Not the agreement among warlords, some of which may not be compatible with the law of the land,” he added.
As a constitutional monarch, Aziz said, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is under a duty to make sure that there is always a government to advise him.
“This has been incorporated into our Constitution through Article 40, which brings in the convention that has been accumulated for ages in the United Kingdom.
“The essence of this provision, among others, dictate that if there is a party or group of parties that hold the majority, then it is for them to nominate one of them to be appointed as the prime minister. He would later form the government through the formation of cabinet,” he added.
From the beginning, Aziz noted, the common understanding is that Mahathir was meant to be an interim prime minister but in recent months, questions have been raised as to when he would hand over the reins to Anwar.
“Such has been due to various statements by Mahathir, some of which signal a certain amount of reluctance on his part to let Anwar succeed him. The uncertainty has become more intense as other names such as Azmin and Hishamuddin (above) suddenly appear to be potential successors.
“Apart from expressing support for Mahathir, the duo is said to have been behind several manoeuvres to mobilise support among MPs for the sitting premier,” he added.
Aziz also addressed the speculation that Mahathir might call for a snap poll to thwart Anwar from taking over the premiership.
“It has to be said that legally, Mahathir is not at liberty to call for an election as he has to make a request to have Parliament dissolved first.
“And there is no guarantee that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong would grant one. Indeed there are at least two reasons why a dissolution could not be granted. One must bear in mind that on this issue, His Majesty may decide on his own.
“Thus if the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong finds that Anwar has the numbers, Mahathir is under a duty to resign with his entire cabinet. The next thing to do is to appoint Anwar as the new prime minister and it is to him to form the new cabinet,” Aziz added.