MPs submit their choice for PM

King to consider nominations for 9th PM with advice from Malay Rulers, who will convene a special meeting tomorrow


MALAYSIAN MPs submitted their choice for prime minister (PM), mostly along party lines, for the King to consider who will administer the country until the next general election.

The MPs, most of them submitting statutory declarations (SDs) en bloc according to their party leadership, were asked to nominate just one name for the country’s top post by 4pm yesterday.

Now, the King will consider the nominations to appoint the ninth PM with advice from the Malay Rulers, who will convene a special meeting on Friday.

Political parties were scrambling to negotiate alliances throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, after the Dewan Rakyat Speaker requested each MP nominate one name for PM following the collapse of the Perikatan Nasional government on Monday.

These negotiations have apparently reduced the candidacy to a two-horse race featuring former Deputy PM Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as parties closed ranks to make the numbers.

From Umno Supreme Council meeting and a meeting held among Barisan Nasional MPs yesterday, it is believed that Ismail Sabri would receive the support of 41 of 42 BN MPs after party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi declined to be considered and Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan is not eligible.

Umno Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah reportedly did not sign a letter of support for Ismail Sabri.

Umno sec-gen Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan revealed that Ismail Sabri is the party’s third choice after Ahmad Zahid and Mohamad.

Pas deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said all MPs from the party will unanimously throw their support for Ismail Sabri.

However, despite parties having distilled candidates to two names, a Palace statement hinted that numbers alone would not be the main criteria for selection.

Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said the King wished for the newly elected PM to prove his legitimacy and majority support through a confidence vote in Parliament immediately as soon as it next convenes.

“His Highness stressed that the SDs are meant to assist him in a decision to appoint an MP that he feels will enjoy the confidence of the majority of the MPs in accordance with the Constitution.

“In this regard, His Highness, as the Supreme Head of the Federation, will try his best to fulfil the responsibilities of a Constitutional monarchy according to the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said.

The King, alongside with his deputy Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, had met with political leaders of Umno, DAP, PKR, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Pas, Parti Amanah Negara, Parti Warisan Rakyat Sabah and dan Parti Pejuang Tanah Air yesterday.

The King also met component parties of Gabungan Parti Sarawak through a virtual audience on Tuesday.

“The people should not be burdened with endless political turmoil and at the same time, the country is struggling with health and economic issues brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the King said.

Despite the general understanding that it is the race between the Bera and Port Dickson MPs, Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun said the public should be prepared for other possibilities, taking example from Malaysia’s political crisis last year.

“The result is anybody’s guess. We have to wait at least until Friday when the Malay Rulers meet.

“After what we saw happened during the Sheraton Move, anything is possible. So, there is still a possibility for other names to be chosen,” he said.

Oh added that it is clear in the Palace statement issued yesterday that the King commands for MPs to give their full support to the elected PM and there will be no attempt to overthrow him.

“The King hopes whoever is chosen as new PM will not be shaken down like (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin). Before, they had a slim majority and Umno is trying to shake Muhyiddin. The King hopes that with the MP elected, there is no ‘shaking of the tree’ anymore,” he said.

However, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia senior lecturer (political study) Dr Mazlan Ali opined that while the two candidates, Ismail Sabri and Anwar, are believed to have the support of their respective divide, the composition does not indicate a strong majority.

“We know from what the King wishes in the statement yesterday that he hopes for unity and cooperation within the political parties. However, with Ismail Sabri believed to have 115 (MPs’) support from the government seats, that is not enough to make a strong majority.

“The benefit of winning two-third of the seats is that it will be easier to pass the laws and it will be easier for the government to focus on managing the pandemic, and a slim majority makes it harder to enable that,” he said.