With parliamentary majority in doubt, PM Muhyiddin could stay in power using agreements with parties

KUALA LUMPUR : To stay in power, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin could resort to confidence and supply agreements with various opposition parties, even if he no longer commands an outright majority in the Parliament following the Royal Palace’s rejection of his bid to establish emergency rule.

Despite Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah’s reminder to politicians to reduce politicking and ensure the stability of Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s government on Sunday (Oct 25), calls for the Prime Minister to vacate his office continued to gather momentum on Monday.

Calls for Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to vacate his office continued to gather momentum.
Calls for Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to vacate his office continued to gather momentum.PHOTO: REUTERS

Umno, the biggest party in Mr Muhyiddin’s ruling pact, and the Barisan Nasional coalition, have admitted they were discussing asking him to resign during a series of meetings on Monday. One of Umno’s leaders, Datuk Puad Zakarshi, even openly called for Mr Muhyiddin to step down in a statement.

Mr Muhyiddin had sought an emergency rule to combat the rising coronavirus infections in the country, which also helps avoid putting his Budget 2021 up for a parliamentary vote at a time when his majority seems very much in doubt.

This was not helped by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim claiming a fortnight ago, during an audience with the King, that he had the support of a parliamentary majority to form a new government.

With the King’s rejection of Mr Muhyiddin’s bid for emergency rule on Sunday, the latter now needs support from across the aisle to ensure any budget put forth by his administration does not fail on the floor of the Parliament.

“Muhyiddin would have to rely heavily on the King’s call for unity and cessation of ‘politicking’ in his increasingly arduous effort to persuade both the opposition as well as his ruling component parties to enter into such agreements,” said Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

Dr Oh said that Mr Muhyiddin “squandered” his political capital in trying to push through an emergency law, which was met with almost broad criticism from both sides of the political divide as well as civil society.

“It remains to be seen to what extent his political rivals would be convinced that this is indeed the most viable political way forward, or whether it is really time for him to go,” he added.

Despite the challenges at hand, there have been indications from both sides of the political divide that a form of bipartisan consensus to pass the budget may be possible.

Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki on Monday called the government to establish a special committee involving both the government and the opposition in combating the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

He also urged a periodic bipartisan engagement to be established to tackle the crisis.

“The Prime Minister has to call leaders of all parties – government or opposition – to have a pre-Parliament consultation to ensure that Budget 2021 is passed for the welfare of the people,” Dr Asyraf said in a statement.

Democratic Action Party organising secretary Anthony Loke Siew Fook, a former federal Cabinet minister, similarly called for a “national consensus” to pass the upcoming national budget.

The opposition MP urged all parties not to “take advantage” of the King’s rejection of Mr Muhyiddin’s emergency plans, and instead unite to overcome Covid-19 infections in the country.

He also called on all parties to agree that a general election would not be held until 2023, when an election is actually due.

“It is time for political leaders to heed to His Majesty’s advice and reach a national consensus,” Mr Loke said in a statement on Sunday.

By : Ram Anand – The Straits Times

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