So Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been granted what he has always wanted – an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to, in his own words “present documentation of the strong and convincing majority of MPs” supporting him, which he first proclaimed at a press conference on September 23.
It’s not difficult to recall that at that press conference, Anwar claimed he had the majority support which he described as “solid and convincing” for him to take control of Putrajaya as “the government of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has fallen”.
He announced also that he was supposed to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong a day earlier, i.e. Sept 22 (which Istana Negara later confirmed) but this was postponed as the King was unwell.
Istana Negara confirmed that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had been admitted to the royal ward at the National Heart Institute on Sept 21.
According to Anwar. he could not, or rather would not, give details i.e. the numbers he had without first informing the King which is “the proper thing to do”.
Now that he has been granted an audience scheduled for Tuesday October 13 at Istana Negara, he will have the opportunity he has been seeking, to make good his words. At stake is not only his reputation and credibility but also his political career.
To say it straight, quite a number of people have cast doubts even to the point of ridiculing his claims of having the numbers.
Detractors jumped in to draw parallel to the claims he made in 2008 that he had the numbers to wrest federal power which did not materialize. Why? The answer one gets depends on whom one talks to. But all that is in the past which has no consequences to what we are seeing now.
When Anwar made his announcement on Sept 23, many a political observer went on record to say the opposition leader needed to give proof to what he was saying but at the same time not go all the way to dispel his claims outright. In short, they were unsure as to what the real or actual picture was.
Now a political observer tells me, “Anwar’s audience with the King would be helpful to put an end to speculations and guessing game which have left the Muhyiddin government on shaky grounds ever since Anwar made the claims of having a convincing majority”.
The Muhyiddin administration on shaky grounds, I agree. I’m sure many would say that is stating the obvious – what with the government’s razor-thin majority in the Parliament and the dispute over Perikatan Nasional among the parties in government.
The observer went on to say that since Anwar’s claims of having the majority, “Muhyiddin has been quite mute in trying to disapprove Anwar’s claims, thereby fueling much speculation.”
If I may add, Muhyiddin’s response was to state that he was still prime minister until proven otherwise.
In a statement issued hours after Anwar made the claims, Muhyiddin said this (Anwar’s) claim “needs to be proven through the processes and procedures determined by the Federal Constitution, and without undergoing that process Anwar’s statement is a mere allegation”.
Critics and detractors of Anwar stepped in to “advise”the opposition leader to prove his numbers in the Parliament, but his supporters retorted, saying the Parliament would only reconvene in November and only the prime minister can request for a special sitting. This was confirmed by Speaker Datuk Azhar Harun.
And Anwar’s supporters say it would be “far fetched”, to put it mildly, to expect Muhyiddin to call for a special Dewan Rakyat sitting just for Anwar to prove his numbers.
And they are skeptical that even in the event of Anwar putting up a motion of no confidence against the prime minister, it would be accepted by the Speaker. And even if the motion is accepted, they say there is no guarantee it will be tabled in November or any other time, pointing to Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s no confidence motion against Muhyiddin. Although accepted by former Speaker Tan Sri Mohd Ariff Yusof, it has not seen the light of day, as “government matters always take precedence in Parliament”.
Hence, Anwar’s best option is naturally to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The Constitution allows the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to decide whether to ask a prime minister who has lost support to resign or dissolve the Parliament paving the way for election.
The Constitution also stipulates that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is empowered to appoint as prime minister the Member of Parliament “who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of members of the House”.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is key to the matter as the final decision rests with His Majesty.
News of Anwar’s audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong comes at a time when Muhyiddin is finding his popularity sliding among a substantial number of Malaysians, in particular over his Perutusan Khas a few days ago with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have been reading and hearing of what the prime minister said. So too the criticisms hurled. Hence I will not be repeating what has been said and what is being said.
I’ll end by saying this: October 13 Tuesday is a big day.
By : Mohsin Abdullah – SIN CHEW DAILY