Palace calls party leaders for audience

Oppositions call for an audience to resolve matters including the suspension of Parliament under the Covid-19 Emergency


ALL eyes will be on the King and political party leaders over the talk that a series of meetings will be held between the palace and politicians beginning today.

Sources said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah will meet with leaders of political parties from both sides of Parliament.

It is understood that the palace has arranged meetings that include parties that have applications pending with the Registrar of Societies, sources told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Political parties have declined to comment on the said meetings, but sources said they will be consulted to resolve several crises facing the country including the pandemic and political impasse arising from measures to fight Covid-19.

Former Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad confirmed that he has been invited to an audience tomorrow, according to Parti Pejuang Tanah Air officials.

They said Dr Mahathir received an invitation to meet with the Agong, along with several other party leaders last week.

While the details of the agenda remain closely guarded, analysts speculated that the meetings reflected the promise by the palace to meet following calls from the Opposition for an audience to resolve urgent matters including the suspension of Parliament under the Covid 19 Emergency.

“Definitely, if the news is true, the people’s expectation towards Sultan Abdullah is high. The King may be looking for a new direction on how we can exit this crisis together,” said associate professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi.

He said it will most likely touch on the Emergency proclaimed by the King in January at the request of PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as part of the government’s Covid-19 strategy.

Muhyiddin had said the Emergency was to allow the government to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, especially with the power to force private healthcare to provide their resources.

The Emergency has been criticised for not meeting its stated objectives, with daily infections rising higher than before the Emergency, topping at more than 9,000 cases recently.

The Perikatan Nasional government is also facing pressure from its coalition partner Umno, which has indicated it will end its support if things do not improve.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Mazlan Ali brought up the possibility that a unity government could also be in the mix of discussions.

“First, perhaps both the Ruler, as well as the politicians have come to a point that a once and for all a mechanism must be invoked, among others are the idea of a unity government where all parties would cease-fire and be part of the government to resolve the Covid-19 crisis.

“Second, as we know that Umno leaders are giving an indication that they would abandon the PN government if the Parliament reconvenes after the Emergency which will end on Aug 1.

“Of course, Muhyiddin has the authority to seek for an extension of the Emergency, but Agong can refuse this as what he had done in October last year when he did not grant the request,” Mazlan said to TMR.

If that is the case, Mazlan said the repercussions would be the continuity of the party-hopping.

However, he said a new alliance will need a stable number of supporters in the Dewan Rakyat, at least some 130 supporters of the 222 seats, which could be difficult.

“As such, my hypothesis is, it is the best and most practical period to bring up the unity government concept into the table so they can all focus to fight the current crisis.

The government has been widely criticised by ordinary Malaysians who are dissatisfied with the way it is handling the pandemic, including several rounds of movement controls and the perceived lag in vaccinations.

One analyst said the fact that the palace has called for multi-party meetings indicated that there is an urgent need to address some of the issues that have impacted the lives of the ordinary people.

The analyst who did not want to be identified said while a unity government may well be discussed as one scenario, but getting across the board agreement would be difficult given the current fractious state of politics.

A more likely scenario would be a resolution within the Emergency, he said.

The King will also likely seek advice from fellow Rulers who are expected to meet in the middle of the month.

Pejuang chairman Dr Mahathir had previously mulled the idea of a unity government just before he was succeeded by Muhyiddin in February 2020.

Dr Mahathir had previously requested to head a unity government where he would appoint ministers without considering their affiliations and hierarchy in the political parties..