KUALA LUMPUR – March 3, 2020: The Malaysian parliament website has yet to update the number of MPs in the ruling and opposition blocs despite Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin being sworn in as prime minister last Sunday.
This is seen as a sign that the administration that replaces the Pakatan Harapan government is fragile.
“Both sides are saying they have the numbers. We will only know for certain once parliament reconvenes,” said former Pribumi Bersatu vice-president Datuk Hamidah Osman.
Hamidah was referring to the dispute over the exact number of MPs supporting either Muhyiddin or former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
When he was sworn in, Muhyiddin was said to have the support of 114 MPs – two above the threshold to form government – but Mahathir was adamant he too had the majority support.
The new coalition now in power, called Perikatan National, consists of Pribumi Bersatu, Barisan Nasional, PAS, Sarawak’s GPS and 11 former PKR MPs.
Minus the six who pledged their allegiance to Mahathir, the number of Pribumi Bersatu MPs supporting Muhyiddin stands at 20, thus making with its 42 MPs the most dominant member.
“With such a marginal majority, this new government is unstable. It is likely the crisis will continue and investors won’t like this kind of political uncertainty,” said Hamidah.
Former Kuala Kedah Umno division chief Datuk Latt Shariman Abdullah said BN’s dominance in the Muhyiddin coalition will not bode well for the new prime minister’s image.
“People are going to view him as a lame duck PM. Therefore, to prevent opportunistic MPs from fishing in troubled waters, it is better for the PM to seek a fresh mandate from the people. Parliament needs to be dissolved,” he said.
Latt Shariman was not the only one in favour of fresh elections. PAS spiritual leader Datuk Hashim Jasin is of the view that a snap poll is the way to go if the crisis continues.
Geostrategist Dr. Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia is sure the drama has yet to end.
“If the ministers that Muhyiddin appoints are capable, perhaps some MPs could be swayed to support the government. I am inclined for a snap poll, if and only if the government fails to gain the confidence of the people.
“But the more important thing is to let the government do its job first without too much of a distraction. Give some time for it to function first so that Muhyiddin can prove himself,” Azmi reasoned.