pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
IN THE midst of something being rotten in the state and the nation being in need of a catharsis, the King enters the frame — meeting heads of political parties, thus feeding the imagination of Malaysians at large.
Spicing up matters is the fact that the nine Malay Rulers will meet on June 16, two weeks earlier than scheduled.
It seems there is a big game afoot. As much as sceptics do not think so, the build-up points towards something major brewing, but it’s anybody’s guess what that could be.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any tell-tale signs to be used as sources of deduction prior to the King deciding on meeting the political leaders.
One that is obvious, even if the government refuses to the admit it, opinions that this is a failed government has grown by the day and the hashtag #KerajaanGagal (#FailedGovernment) has become a stickler on social media platforms.
Apart from that, demands for Parliament to be reconvened and the proclamation of Emergency derisively dismissed as a failure and contributed nothing to address the Covid-19 pandemic had in fact escalated since the Emergency was put in place.
The King too had been inadvertently dragged into the quagmire, taking the brunt of criticism for the failure and inefficiency of the Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s government.
While the King is not required to explain his reasons for meeting up with the political leaders, obviously, if the King is satisfied with Muhyiddin’s government, why would there be any need for him to set up those meetings.
Of course, it can be that he is trying to collate feedback from the different leaders and use them in his special meeting with his brother Rulers on June 16.
But that is not the norm nor the convention if the King did not feel the government of the day is lacking or wanting.
That established, what could the nation expect next?
As pointed out earlier, the exercise may merely be for the King to collate feedback.
But if that’s all there is to it, given the anticipation and growing unrest among the populace with the current government, it would be a missed opportunity to rectify the situation and get the nation out of the cesspool it’s in right now.
What are the options that are on the table?
One is for the Emergency to be rescinded and pave the way for the Parliament to reconvene, and that will give MPs the opportunity to raise issues which have not gone down well with some of them since the Emergency was put into place.
But the Parliament sitting will also open up the opportunity to determine whether Muhyiddin still commands the majority and if he doesn’t, then he would have to step down.
The problem is that even if another person takes over, chances are he would also only have a razor-thin majority and subject to “blackmails” and pressures from whoever he secured the numbers to have majority support.
He or she will be no different than Muhyiddin, who ended up forming a bloated, ineffective and costly Cabinet merely to accommodate all those who support him.
Then there is the possibility of nobody having a majority to replace Muhyiddin as the Opposition is very divided, which then results in Muhyiddin not having even the simple majority but having the highest number of support comparatively.
If Muhyiddin is allowed to continue, then the woes felt by the people towards the government remains unresolved and his legitimacy, which had been questioned from day one of his ascension, is proven to be missing.
What would be worst is that the lack of majority or a hung Parliament will then lead to an election being called.
Given what had happened in Sabah when the polls were held last year and following that the spike in Covid-19 cases which have not diminished since then, a national election could very well be like the ringing of the death knell.
The next option which has been bandied is the setting up of a unity government, an idea proposed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad before he left office last year, which basically intends to have an administration that has representation not only of politicians, but more importantly of technocrats, academics and experts.
But the idea was roundly rejected by both then Opposition and Pakatan Harapan leaders, obviously thinking of the possibilities that they would not have a place since it would have been taken up by the non-political appointees.
And at this stage, given the divisions among the political parties from both sides of the fence, it would require massive juggling to form and the possibility of it crumbling before it even starts is highly likely.
Dr Mahathir, at his meeting with the King yesterday, proposed the setting up of a 1969-like National Operations Council (NOC) that acts within the ambit of the Emergency powers.
The ala-NOC body would focus on specifically dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, the social disintegration and political uncertainties.
It sounds like a long shot, but the nation is unravelling at its seams and the political solution does not seem a viable option at all at this stage.
Actually, the ball is now again at the Royal courts, probably the second time in the history of the nation since 1946, when the Rulers responded to the rallying call of the Malays then for the discontinuance of the Malayan Union.
And that made them regal.
Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.