AG: Muhyiddin still PM

Dewan Rakyat members have to determine whether one has the majority support and announcements by party leaders are not valid in this case


TAN Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) government remains in charge despite a split coalition, after major partner Umno announced its withdrawal of support, according to the Attorney General (AG).

AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun said the government has no clear facts to show that the prime minister (PM) has lost the majority confidence of Dewan Rakyat members, despite the announcement from Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said according to the Federal Constitution, Dewan Rakyat members have to determine whether one has the majority support and announcements by party leaders are not valid in this case.

“As such, according to the law, the current PM and the Cabinet ministers clearly still stay to conduct the federal executive power,” Idrus said in a statement yesterday.

The PN government took over after it replaced the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration on headcount support of MPs on paper, but has never faced a show of hands in Parliament, which has been shut since

February 2020 on Covid-19 concerns. Meanwhile, various parties from both sides of Parliament have disputed Muhyiddin’s tenure following Ahmad Zahid’s announcement. Opposition bloc PH said Muhyiddin has lost the base support and majority support of MPs when a leader of Umno, the biggest political party, withdrew support from the PN coalition and demanded Muhyiddin to resign.

“It was obvious that the AG had acted more as a PN political member than upholding constitutional supremacy.

“Hence, Tan Sri Mahiaddin Mohd Yassin (sic) needs to resign with honour because he had lost the support and legitimacy as a PM,” PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar

Ibrahim, Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said in a joint statement yesterday.

The PH Presidential Council also said this is not the right time for a general election (GE).

Although Ahmad Zahid had announced that Umno has withdrawn support from Muhyiddin, Umno MPs, including newly appointed Deputy PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, remains in his Cabinet yesterday with no sign of adhering to their president’s announcement.

Their non-committal stance is a clear sign of a split within Umno with regards to the PN government, analysts said.

In an early morning press conference yesterday, Ahmad Zahid urged the PM to step down with honour and make way for a new interim PM who specifically would handle the crises induced by the Covid-19 pandemic before the next GE.

But certain quarters claimed that Ahmad Zahid’s announcement may have deviated from the actual conclusions that arrived after the Supreme Council meeting.

Umno ministers in the PN administration — including Ismail Sabri and newly appointed Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein — may decide to break ranks by holding on to their positions in the government.

These political predicaments are unfolding on the back of resurging new daily Covid-19 cases that hit 8,868 yesterday.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said if Umno MPs decide to support the party president’s stance, theoretically the PN government would lose the majority support and the current administration can be considered as a minority government.

“A minority government can govern, but it would not last long. That is for sure,” Azmi told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

At present, he said there is no PM-designate either from Umno or other Opposition parties that seem to be able to gain enough support to form a government.

“If Tan Sri Muhyiddin steps down, it will be a scramble to form a new government. As I see it now, there is no candidate that could gain enough support to create a stable government.

“We would be going back to square one.”

He said Malaysia needs a PM candidate with a Mario Draghi-like stature, the new Italian PM appointed in February who has no affiliation to any political party and is accepted by all and rises above the political impasse in the country.

Azmi said Malaysia might not have such a figure. Still, the nearest candidates are either Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah or Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

But the analyst thinks the two statesmen would still not gain enough support to be an interim PM.

Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has 32 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, DAP (42), PKR (36) and Umno (38).

A senior fellow at the National Council of Professors Dr Jeniri Amir said it is ironic for Umno to criticise the current government when its leaders are part of it.

“As long as Umno does not want to work with DAP or PKR, any government would have no majority. So there is going to be uncertainty,” Jeniri told TMR.

He said political leaders need to be responsible and place the best interests of the nation above anything else, adding that some sacrifice is needed.

In a press conference, Dr Mahathir said Parti Pejuang Tanah Air is not interested in politics at the moment, and the priority is to resolve the crises faced by the people.