by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by BERNAMA
UMNO stalwart Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah (picture) yesterday revealed he had sought for a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last month, on the eve of a crucial state election in Sabah.
In a letter dated Sept 25 to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, Tengku Razaleigh requested for assurance that the motion tabled against Muhyiddin would be given priority when the house reconvenes on Nov 2. The bold disclosure was made a day after his audience with the King.
The Gua Musang MP said the no-confidence motion demanded the immediate attention of the Dewan Rakyat as it is a matter of national interest. Muhyiddin’s grip on power so far has been aided by a razor-thin majority in Parliament.
In a written response dated four days later, Azhar maintained that the motion would be subjected to parliamentary standing orders. He said there were no guarantees the matter would take precedence in the upcoming sitting.
Malaysia’s political turmoil deepened on Tuesday when Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim met the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in his latest bid to capture the country’s top post.
Anwar in a press conference afterwards said the monarch would meet all party leaders this week to consider his premiership bid.
The PKR chief claimed to have submitted evidence of his “formidable and convincing” majority among parliamentarians during his audience with the King.
The palace, however, said Anwar did not provide a list of names to back his claim.
Umno later announced it would consider pulling out from Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition as the damage continues to unfold. Its leaders, however, are in complete shambles.
University of Nottingham Malaysia’s Asia Research Institute honorary research associate Prof Dr Bridget Welsh in a Twitter posting said Umno will set the direction of the country’s political impasse. However, she recognised that Umno is not a monolith party as it has three prevailing factions.
Universiti Sains Malaysia political scientist Dr Azmil Tayeb expects Umno to make good on its threat to leave PN as it seeks to dominate Putrajaya.
“Umno has to find an alternative way to return to power even if it means leaving PN and forming a new coalition,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.
“We can see the vulnerability of the Pakatan Harapan government when it comes to garnering Malay support and if this Anwar-led coalition is to be sustainable and successful, then it needs to include Umno, not merely for the number of MPs it can provide, but also for the support at the grassroots level,” Azmil added.
Anwar’s bid to takeover Putrajaya will likely face further challenges after the national palace went into partial lockdown due to coronavirus restrictions.
A Reuters report, citing a senior palace official, said the King has postponed all meetings scheduled for the next two weeks as the country battles to control the spread of the disease in major hotspots.
Despite the restrictive circumstance, University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute director Prof James Chin expects individual meetings with party leaders will likely continue at Istana Negara in the weeks leading up to the convening of Parliament on Nov 2.
“I think the King will likely proceed with informal meetings, instead of formal meetings. My take is that Istana Negara and the Conference of Rulers would not want to drag this political instability for more than a week, especially when we have all the problems you can think of in this world,” Chin said.
Tengku Razaleigh was summoned for an audience with the King on Tuesday, almost immediately after Anwar left the palace.
Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is scheduled to have an audience with the monarch today, prior to the lockdown notice.
DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu in a joint statement yesterday said their audiences with the King, initially set for Oct 14 and Oct 21 respectively, have been postponed.