The light to define the darkness

pic by TMR FILE

THE more worldly among social media users were quick to latch on to reports about the resignation of Italian Prime Minister (PM) Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday, and started comparing it to our domestic state of affairs.

Most of the narratives centred on the preparedness of Mr Conte to relinquish his post when he knew he lost his majority.

These narratives are then directed at PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture; right), who, to them, had already lost his majority and should have stepped down, but instead, chose to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to proclaim the emergency so as to ensure his longevity in the position.

While their contentions are the promotion of observing basic democratic principles, selective positions that some had taken tend to negate such intent.

When Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) chose to resign when he believed that he had lost the majority, just a month shy of a year ago, his detractors frothed at the mouth questioning him for making such a decision.

Instead of heralding the decision of being that of a true democrat, as they now herald Mr Conte, their concern centred on the power not being transferred to their preferred candidate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

To them, whether Dr Mahathir still had the majority or not is of no consequence — what mattered was that the position was handed over to Anwar or Dr Mahathir should have not resigned when the King had asked him to stay on.

If Dr Mahathir had handed over the mantle to Anwar when the former knew he had lost the majority, it meant that he, like what Muhyiddin is accused of today, advised the King when he is no longer qualified to act or stay on as the PM.

The question that should also be asked is, if Dr Mahathir had agreed to stay on as the PM as requested by the King, which coalition would he be leading — the Pakatan Harapan (PH) or Perikatan Nasional (PN).

If the Sheraton Move and Dr Mahathir’s resignation that followed were to be dissected, obviously if he had stayed on, he would have had to be the PM of the PN and dependent on the kleptocrats as Muhyiddin is now.

Of essence today are the legal initiatives taken by Anwar et al to question Muhyiddin’s right to advise the King making the proclamation of emergency.

The very basis of these legal moves centre on the fact that Muhyiddin is without his majority, hence, it is not in his place anymore to advise the King to proclaim the Emergency.

Simply put, Muhyiddin has lost his majority, meaning he has lost his right to the PM’s post which in effect means that he is no more qualified to be or remain as PM.

Since he is all that, he cannot be advising the King on proclaiming the emergency, or for that matter, anything else that is related to Constitutional provisions which contended that the King acts on the advice of the PM.

If Anwar and the others that had undertaken legal suits against Muhyiddin are operating on this precept, then, his supporters and he should by now accept that Dr Mahathir’s decision to resign last year is consistent with the spirit of their legal moves against Muhyiddin.

They cannot interpret these aphorisms at their whims and fancies and when it suits them.

If today, they are hell-bent in wanting Muhyiddin to resign on grounds that he had lost the majority, they must then accept Dr Mahathir’s decision to resign last year as the benchmark for democratic practices to be observed by the nation and its political players.

Otherwise, they would have to accept Muhyiddin is digging his heels into office despite all signs pointing towards him having no legitimacy whatsoever to remain in office.

Otherwise, Muhyiddin could always turn around and insist that he had held on to his position because the King had not asked him to resign or that he had been asked to stay on.

Then round and round it goes.

That established, the next stage in dealing with the opinions inspired by Mr Conte, is dealing with the twist by Muhyiddin and his proponents to turn any legal initiatives against Muhyiddin into that of being against the proclamation of emergency, and directly pit them against the King, where the ultimate proclamatory lies.

It had been written before that such deflection is only expected from proponents of a position that is devoid of legitimacy. It is easy, self-serving and to a lot of degree effortless.

Instead of looking at it as an exercise towards a maturing democracy, many looked at it as an opportunity for a punitive reaction if not an outright monopoly of opinions and interpretation.

In short, resorting to such deflections would result in shutting up the detractors.

Having the final say is usually satisfying to only a certain degree. It is how one gets to have the final say that actually matters.

But the weak-minded don’t care. They persist.


Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.