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The 'Anwar move': What we know of the state of play

KiniGuide

Published
Modified 22 Oct 2020, 2:17 am

KINIGUIDE | Anwar Ibrahim was finally granted his audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday but that event has left more questions than answers.

What is certain is that Anwar has yet to prove to the Agong that he now has the numbers to form a new government.

This installment of KiniGuide will try to answer some questions posed by readers and editorial staff on the state of play for the "Anwar move" and what might possibly follow.

Does Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin still have the numbers to govern?

Yes, unless the Agong eventually determines otherwise.

How can the Agong decide?

Based on several events during end-February, the Agong can interview every MP on their allegiance.

So far, the Agong has not indicated that a similar interview process will take place. What is certain is that some party leaders will likely be summoned to the palace eventually.

Is the word of the head of a political party any good?

This is not clear at this point.

Article 43 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution explicitly states that the Agong's duty is to appoint a prime minister who "in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority" of MPs.

The Federal Constitution does not recognise the term "the head of a party".

Moreover, individual MPs may not necessarily toe the party line during voting in Parliament or when interviewed by the Agong.

However, there was a precedent set in February. After interviewing the MPs, the Agong still wasn't sure who commanded the majority. Hence he interviewed the heads of parties next.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (left) and Anwar Ibrahim.

Is there a precedent where a list of supporters must be shown to the Agong?

We don't know.

What we do know was that in February, Muhyiddin never made his list public, just as how Anwar refused to do so now. Malaysians only knew Muhyiddin's full list of supporters in July when the MPs voted in Parliament to remove Mohd Ariff Md Yusof for the speaker post.

Muhyiddin's full list at that time included all MPs from Umno (39), Bersatu (31), PAS (18), GPS (18), MCA (2), PBRS (1), PBS (1), Star (1), and MIC (1). Additionally, Muhyiddin has the support of the independent Lubok Antu lawmaker, bringing his total supporters to 113.

Didn't Umno president Zahid Hamidi say "many" Umno MPs are supporting Anwar?

That is irrelevant. No Umno MP has publicly stated their support for Anwar nor withdrew their support from Muhyiddin.

However, Zahid's statement did lend credence to Anwar's claim that Muhyiddin had lost the parliamentary majority.

What is the most definitive way for Muhyiddin to prove his majority?

Muhyiddin can table a motion for a confidence vote when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes on Nov 2.

Alternatively, he could wait for the vote on the Supply (Budget) Bill 2021 scheduled for Nov 23.

If the confidence or Budget votes are defeated, what happens next?

According to Article 43(4), once the prime minister ceases to command the confidence (support) of the majority of MPs, then he must tender his resignation or request for the Agong to dissolve Parliament.

Can the Agong withhold consent to dissolve Parliament?

Yes, but the Agong will then have to determine which MP commands the support of the majority of MPs.


This instalment of KiniGuide is compiled by ANDREW ONG.

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