Set differences aside to build nation, says Agong

pic by BERNAMA

THE Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah (picture) has called for all parties to set aside their differences and focus on building the nation in a united effort.

With the fall in global oil prices, ongoing US-China trade war and multiple curbs on palm oil increasing the burden on Malaysia’s trade-reliant economy, the coronavirus pandemic now threatens to push it over the edge.

“I would like to remind all leaders to set aside their differences and instead band together in accepting diverse ideas to build and unite the nation. Unity and harmony should begin in this august House,” the King said in his royal address, which was broadcasted live from Parliament yesterday.

The Dewan Rakyat sat for the first time yesterday, two months after a political conflict in Putrajaya resulted in a change of government and the rise in Covid-19 cases drove the country into partial lockdown.

The King’s speech was the only item on the agenda after initial plans to present government bills and a motion for a vote of no confidence were postponed to the next meeting scheduled for July.

In the hour-long address, the King gave his account on the turbulent days following Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation as prime minister (PM) on Feb 24 — a move which he had advised against.

The political turmoil ended with the appointment of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as Malaysia’s eighth PM by the King, in line with Article 43 of the Federal Constitution, after a meeting with all MPs individually.

“I found that Muhyiddin commanded the confidence of the majority of the house and deserved to be appointed as PM. I have carried out the responsibility with transparency and fairness in accordance with the principles of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.”

He went on to outline efforts taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak and paid tribute to frontline workers with a round of applause joined by all MPs. He urged employers to avoid layoffs and that the government should provide assistance to industries that are hardest hit by the pandemic.

The government should also ensure that its RM260 billion stimulus package is channelled properly to its intended recipients. It was last reported that the rollout of the plan — which equals nearly 18% of the country’s GDP — is on track with all payments almost disbursed.

“The package is unprecedented and will require support from all parties,” the King said.

The half-day sitting witnessed a change in the composition of seats in the Dewan Rakyat with Muhyiddin and members of his two-month-old Cabinet taking hold of the government’s front bench.

On the Opposition’s end, the front bench is led by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, followed by party leaders of the Pakatan Harapan coalition and subsequently Dr Mahathir, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman.