Hours after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had his audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Tuesday October 13, Istana Negara issued its media statement. A much awaited one, I would say.
The statement issued by Istana Negara comptroller of the royal household Datuk Indera Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, in most part paid much attention to the current COVID-19 situation in the country. In fact, of the nine paragraphs five were about the pandemic. Rightly so, considering the serious and frightening situation we are in now.
But the statement started by “detailing” the session Anwar had with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Rightly so also, considering it is of much public interest having captured the “imagination” of Malaysians in general.
And within the four brief paragraphs allocated on what transpired at the session, we learned that the audience lasted 25 minutes, during which Anwar presented the total number of Members of Parliament who purportedly supported him.
At a packed media conference held after he met the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (and before the Istana Negara statement was released), Anwar told the media he had presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong documentation to show he “commands the majority support of MPs”.
The documentation, according to Anwar, was in the form of statutory declarations and confirmation from party leaders, and the figure he cited was “more than 120 MPs”.
But the Istana Negara statement said, “However, he did not furnish the names of of the Dewan Rakyat members to strengthen his claim”.
That line caused a stir, to put it lightly, among political watchers and observers and in particular Anwar detractors who were quick to question whether the opposition leader really had the numbers he claimed
However, at least one political observer reminded me that at the media conference Anwar “did not say he gave the list of MPs. He only said he provided documentation in the form of SDs and confirmation from party leaders”.
Anyway, after saying Anwar did not furnish the names, the Istana Negara statement also said, “Therefore (the Yang di-Pertuan Agong) Al Sultan Abdullah had advised Anwar to abide by and respect the legal process as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.”
That led to all sorts of interpretations. The Federal Constitution is naturally a big and important factor, or rather element, in the issue.
At his media conference, Anwar also spoke about the Constitution. In appealing to all “to give His Majesty space to carry out his responsibilities”, he also said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “has assured me in no uncertain terms that he will respect the Constitution. I had also reiterated he had the discretion”.
Hence, said Anwar, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong should be given adequate time “to study and digest the papers (documentation) and consult the other party leaders”.
According to Anwar, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “will summon the heads of parties over the next day or two”. The Istana Negara statement made no mention of this.
However, a few hours after Anwar’s, veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah also had an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, obviously after being summoned by His Majesty.
And several party leaders were reported to have also been summoned to the palace, among them DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu.
Lim was to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong October 14, while Mohamad was scheduled for Oct 21. However, the sessions have been postponed.
According to Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, his party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is scheduled to have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on October 15.
However in latest development, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah scheduled at Istana Negara today has been postponed.
Ahmad Zahid, when contacted via Telegram, confirmed the postponement but said that a new date has not been fixed.
Meanwhile, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin held a rare press conference on the same day Anwar went to Istana Negara (apparently his first since taking office as prime minister). As he is under quarantine, Muhyiddin’s press conference with selected members of mainstream media was held virtually from his residence.
The virtual press conference was about COVID-19, and the prime minster skirted the Anwar Istana matter, saying while the opposition leader was at the palace, “I was focusing on fighting COVID-19”.
Well and good, but the fact remains that the prime minister continues to in a precarious situation, if not for anything else, the razor-thin margin he holds in the Parliament, what more the current political situation which indeed is “heating up”.
And the thing is, there are many questions being asked awaiting for the answers.
By : Mohsin Abdullah – SIN CHEW DAILY