For the first time since he seized power in February last year, Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin made the correct constitutional decision to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Even so, he fumbled and undermined his own decision by delaying the vote by a month.
The legitimacy of the government is of urgent national importance. Any prime minister or MP worth his/her salt would immediately call for a vote in the Dewan Rakyat to test his/her support, especially when a large partner in the incumbent coalition claims that more than 11 MPs in its party, namely Umno in this case, have withdrawn their support for Muhyiddin.
PN is said to have a maximum of 110 votes in its favour in the Dewan Rakyat. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi submitted a list of 11 names of those who no longer support Muhyiddin to the Agong, of which eight names are confirmed. So, how can Muhyiddin claim he has a majority?
At this point whatever numbers Zahid or Muhyiddin claims to have are just that — claims. Until these claims are tested in the Dewan Rakyat, they remain unproven and provides no constitutional basis for any party or coalition to claim the right to form a government. So, if Muhyiddin’s PN does not have a majority and he refuses now to prove his claim that he has, what right does he have to remain in government?
He must resign or prove his majority now. He can’t wait. The playing field is level now. Waiting for a month is just a delay tactic to use his incumbency to his advantage and that is giving him unfair advantage. It must not be allowed.
Unfortunately, a precedent has been set — by himself — when in last February he got himself and his cohorts sworn in to form the government although his majority was in question. He failed to prove his majority by facing a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
He’s doing the same thing again. Remaining in government without constitutional authority.
Muhyiddin needs to understand that he came to power on the graces of the Agong — not by the constitutional authority vested on the Dewan Rakyat. Since he is using the authority of the Agong to govern, he is obligated to listen to what the Agong asks. He can not invoke his constitutional authority now when he never got it from the Dewan Rakyat until December last year when the Budget was passed giving him legitimacy.
Now his legitimacy is in question again because his majority is in question. The Agong has wisely advised that a special parliamentary session be called to discuss the emergency ordinances. Muhyiddin fails to heed the Agong and holds a Q & A session in the Dewan Rakyat with no mention of the emergency ordinances except to announce that they have been revoked. Then he postpones the last day of the meeting.
According to the news portal, Sarawak Report, the Agong advised Muhyiddin to resign three times in their last pre-Cabinet meeting but the latter said he will face a no-confidence vote to prove his majority. We don’t know if it was agreed that the no-confidence vote will be in September or that it was understood that it would be held sooner.
The postponed special parliamentary session can be easily recalled for a vote of confidence in a matter of days. Why is Muhyiddin delaying? If he has learnt from his mistake and want to correct it by following the constitution, he must call for a Dewan Rakyat sitting immediately not resort to delaying tactics to gain an advantage.
Does he not know that delaying proving a ruling coalition’s majority, and subsequently its right to govern, will only create more political and economic uncertainties as it allows for intense “frog jumping” and keeps the economy from moving forward?
The FBM KLCI remains jittery and in the doldrums unable to rise up despite Muhyiddin’s public statements. Covid 19 deaths keep breaking daily records, yet Muhyiddin asks if a change of government is good for the nation and if it will affect the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
Anyone looking at the statistics will say, a change of government is the best option. A change of administration will only cause some problems with the national vaccination programme but with good leadership that can be overcome quickly. As for the NRP, what of it? We have not seen any evidence of it. No setback there and no other aspect of government will be affected because the government is running rudderless. Instead, I suspect, there will be all-around relief!
Besides, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s National Recovery Council under his strong and experienced leadership will do a much better job than what we are seeing now and it will draw able people from across the board.
An immediate no-confidence vote is essential for political stability and for the PN to justify its right to remain in government. If PN truly has a majority as it claims, why doesn’t it prove it with a no-confidence vote? Since February last year, PN has been claiming it has a majority but refuses to prove it. Instead, it resorted to luring MPs over and indebting them to Muhyiddin.
A no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat, on the other hand, will free MPs to vote according to their conscience despite all the allurements. That will be the true test of whether Muhyiddin has the support he claims he has. The more important question is whether he has the courage to face the truth about the alleged support for him and the legitimacy of his coalition.