KUALA LUMPUR – May 28, 2020: Technically Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad does not need to wait until the next Parliament in July to try and unseat Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin if he has the required support from parliamentarians but first he has to get past the palace gates for an audience.
But going by what the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had said at the opening of the one-day Dewan Rakyat sitting last May 18, the palace is going to be in no mood to entertain an attempt by anyone to divert from the more pressing need of the government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and not get embroiled in another disruptive political crisis.
When asked for her opinion, Professor Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz of the International Islamic University of Malaysia said such a move outside of parliament is technically doable, given how the federal Constitution is silent on the issue.
“It can take place outside of Parliament. There has been a precedent where the loss of confidence happened outside a legislative body and was done via statutory declarations. The Perak constitutional crisis in 2009 involving Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin was one such case,” said Shamrahayu.
A more recent example was the resignation of Mahathir’s son Datuk Seri Mukhriz as Kedah mentri besar on May 15.
SD or no SD, the crux of the matter is that the palace has relied ultimately on the audiences with the politicians involved. This was also how the Rulers in Terengganu and Perlis decided on the appointment of the MBs after the elections in 2008. PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also claimed to have the numbers in 2008 to try and wrest federal control from the then Barisan Nasional but got nowhere.
A few months ago though Anwar went on record to say that SDs were irrelevant .
In the case of Mukhriz, he admitted to losing majority support and resigned after the assemblymen also had an audience with the Sultan.
Muhyiddin’s parliamentary support has often doubted by Mahathir, especially since Muhyiddin is said to have the support of only 114 MPs when he was sworn in – just two above the threshold — but even if the majority was just one, it could not be used to question the legitimacy of the appointment because it was still a majority.
During the recent parliament sitting, the Agong had reaffirmed Muhyiddin’s majority support and remarked that his appointment was lawful. The Agong had also cautioned MPs not to drag the country into another political crisis.
Another political analyst, Dr. Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, thinks that Mahathir’s effort to topple Muhyiddin will look bad not just on the former PM but also the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
“Tun resigned because of the internal squabbling in Pakatan and I don’t think the people have the stomach to go through it all over again. The people right now are quite satisfied with Muhyiddin’s administration, especially on how it is managing the Covid-19 outbreak,” he reasoned.
Azmi also foresees that a Pakatan comeback led by Mahathir will likely repeat the succession drama between him and Anwar.