What’s next after Anwar’s audience with the King?

PKR calls on all M’sians to remain calm while process unfolds as Anwar meets the King today

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by TMR FILE

ALL eyes will be on Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s (picture) scheduled audience with the King today, as the 73-year-old attempts to formally stake his claim to secure the country’s top job.

Anwar announced last month that he commanded support from close to two-thirds of the 222 lawmakers in Parliament, without disclosing the number of rival MPs that he had won over.

Describing the support that he garnered as “formidable”, he also claimed that Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s government had collapsed.

Muhyiddin then dismissed Anwar’s claims as a “mere allegation”, telling the latter to prove his majority through a constitutional process.

Anwar’s initial audience to present his case on Sept 22 was postponed following the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s admittance to the National Heart Institute (IJN) due to health issues.

In a statement on Oct 8, six days after the King was discharged from IJN, Anwar said he had been granted an audience on Oct 13 and would present evidence of the “strong and convincing majority” claim that would back his bid to form a new government.

The move came amid the rising numbers of new Covid-19 infections in the country following the Sabah state election on Sept 26.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday announced that Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will be placed under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

The CMCO imposes large-scale social restrictions including closure of schools and places of worship to curb the spread of the disease in the hardest hit areas of the country.

Observers’ reaction towards Anwar’s meeting with the King and its outcome have been rather ambivalent.

Some said the monarch might interview all 222 MPs to determine their allegiance as he did in March, while others argue that the King could leave it to the Parliament to decide the issue via a vote of no confidence.

A motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin was previously put forward by his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but the private member’s bill was consistently put on the back burner as government bills dominated the last sitting.

The next Parliament sitting is scheduled for Nov 2. Under Article 55 of the Constitution, the King has the power to call for a special Dewan Rakyat session to be convened to determine if the PM still has support of the majority.

Alternatively, the King also has the power to dissolve Parliament and trigger a general election on Muhyiddin’s advice. Once in effect, an election must be held within 60 days.

The new wave of Covid-19 cases, however, has made this an unlikely option — although one can never discount what seems impossible in local politics. Muhyiddin had previously said he may consider an election if his coalition wins in Sabah.

The drama continued in the lead-up to today’s audience, with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and PAS reiterating their support for Muhyiddin. Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin in a statement described Anwar’s claims as pure fiction.

The police also issued a statement to confirm that they will be calling in Anwar to record his statement, after several MPs lodged a police report to deny their support for the PKR president as alleged according to a list of 121 lawmakers circulating on social media.

Anwar was supposed to present himself at Bukit Aman at 11am yesterday, but the meeting had been postponed to a date which will be announced in the near future.

PKR secretary general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said in a statement that all party members are not to hold any gathering, especially along major roads towards Istana Negara.

He also called on all Malaysians to remain calm as the process unfolds.