COMMENT | Tenuous numbers prop Anwar’s bid to be PM

13-Oct-2020 Intellasia | Malaysiakini | 6:02 AM Print This Post

In the despair of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country braces itself for another political/constitutional predicament, thanks to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s proclamation that he has the numbers to launch a coup to become prime minister.

Anwar has claimed a supermajority among the 222 Members of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat that entitles him to stake a claim for the premiership, a position he has coveted for almost three decades.

On the surface, it seems so persuasive that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong granted Anwar an audience on Tuesday (tomorrow, October 13).

In that audience, Anwar must prove to the King that he has the majority of the MPs’ support to oust Muhyiddin Yassin and get himself installed as the next prime minister.

However, here is the rub: even if Anwar can convince the King that he commands a supermajority, the King simply cannot accede to Anwar’s claim.

Here is why: the Malaysian Constitution does not provide for the King to remove a sitting prime minister.

Only the Dewan Rakyat has the power, via a motion of no confidence, or by not passing an important bill like the annual budget, which is expected to be tabled next month.

If the motion of no confidence is approved, then the sitting prime minister must resign.

The King then has the prerogative to appoint an MP, who, in the monarch’s absolute discretion, can command majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

Alternatively, provided that the outgoing prime minister advises the King to dissolve Parliament, the King has the prerogative to dissolve (or not to dissolve) the Dewan Rakyat.

If the King decides on a dissolution, then an election must be held within 60 days.

However, the King has the power, under Article 55 of the Constitution, to call for a special session of the Dewan Rakyat to be convened to decide if the sitting prime minister still has the support of a simple majority.

Here is another rub: Anwar seems to be putting the cart before the horse.

Anwar must first prove that Muhyiddin has lost the confidence of a majority of at least 112 MPs.

Anwar’s first proper approach is to convince the King that Muhyiddin simply does not command a majority in the Dewan Rakyat.


Category: Malaysia

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