Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s no confidence motion looms, if not Mon, then mid-Sept.

Beleaguered Muhyiddin may even get 1st shot as Interim PM if he resigns.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s no confidence motion may emerge, if not Mon, then in mid-Sept.

The ongoing controversy over the Emergency Proclamation, and six Ordinances, are no longer the immediate issues. The Istana has spoken up and spoken out on these issues on Thurs 29 July.

The immediate issue remains a looming no confidence motion in Parliament on Mon 2 Aug.

If Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin resigns before Parliament reconvenes on Mon, he would no doubt pre-empt Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s no confidence motion, stave off ridicule in public and in the august house.

These are related issues.

Parliamentary convention in the Commonwealth dictates that Speaker Azhar Harun must prioratise any no confidence motion by the Opposition leader. In that case, if the current mood in Parliament holds, Muhyiddin will be history by the end of the day when the august house adjourns. It has never happened in the history of M’sia. There’s always a first time.

Muhyiddin may face the same fate as Mahathir Mohamad, 96, who resigned as the 7th PM on Mon 24 Feb 2020, and was almost immediately appointed Interim PM. Mahathir’s tenure was short-lived when Muhyiddin became PM on Sun 1 Mar 2020.

Mahathir became universally unpopular when he was appointed Interim Prime Minister 17 months ago. Agong, sensing the public mood, quickly cut short Mahathir’s tenure and appointed Muhyiddin as Prime Minister.

Initially, it may be recalled, Agong wanted to appoint former Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah as Prime Minister when Mahathir resigned.

Mahathir objected, when Agong confided in him, on the dubious grounds that she was not suitable material as Prime Minister.

The former Interim Prime Minister has a somewhat “unsavoury” reputation for making up stories as he goes along. Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh asked the media about Mahathir just before GE14, “have you ever seen a leopard change its spots?” It was true that Mahathir takes extreme positions, and while he has been known to do u-turns like no other, has never compromised.

If Wan Azizah could be picked by Mahathir as a suitable Deputy Prime Minister, she could have replaced him as Prime Minister. She was also voted by various public surveys as the best performer in the Mahathir Cabinet.

Agong, after GE14 on 10 May 2018, also felt that Wan Azizah should be Prime Minister.

However, she deferred in citing consensus within the victorious Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, and graciously made way for Mahathir although he was just two months short of turning 93 years old on 10 July 2018. He had no qualms about not returning the favour on Mon 24 Feb 2020.

Mid-Sept Parliament . . .

If Parliament avoids the no confidence motion on Mon 2 Aug, for one reason or another, the issue may surface again in the longer mid-Sept sitting of Parliament.

The rising number of daily virus cases in M’sia, not far from half of India’s 30K to 40K rate, makes the Muhyiddin gov’t look bad in the eyes of the world. Hence, assuming he resigns, appointing Muhyiddin as Interim Prime Minister may not be a popular decision after all but it can be done if push comes to shove.

It may be too late for greater transparency on the rising number of virus cases. More than 98 per cent of these cases, based on media reports citing health authorities, have no symptoms. The figures simply cause public alarm, for no rhyme or reason, confuse investors and create uncertainties in the market and economy.

The gov’t’s testing and contact tracing strategies and lockdown have clearly backfired as seen from the numerous #hashtags already going viral in the social media . . . #KerajaanDerhaka, #KerajaanGagal, #KibarkanBenderaHitam, #KibarkanBenderaPutih, and #KitaJagaKita, #HartalDoktorKontrak and the #LawanTetapLawan protest.

The people and the gov’t are no longer on the same page. They no longer speak the same language and/or speak past each other.

Law on Wed 21 July 2021 . . .

At this juncture, none are sure whether Wed 21 July will end up in the constitutional court. M’sia does not have a separate constitutional court. The Federal Court sits as the constitutional court.

It’s clear from the Istana statement on Thurs 29 July that the Agong never consented to the revocation or annulment of the Emergency Proclamation and the Ordinances. He was firm that Parliament should debate and decide on the issue. Therein lies the dilemma. Agong spoke, the gov’t didn’t “comply”. That’s the simple truth.

The gov’t may have had other ideas. De facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan told Parliament on Mon 26 July 2021 that the gov’t and/or the Cabinet revoked the Emergency Ordinances, if not the Emergency Proclamation as well, on Wed 21 July. That was tantamount to usurping the Agong’s role. I stand corrected if the constitutional court rules otherwise.

In law, revocation and annulment are separate issues, as explained by senior lawyer G. K. Ganesan in a youtube video, one in a running series by him. Revocation means the Proclamation and Ordinances were valid, but now no longer so.

Annulment means the Proclamation and Ordinances were never valid. They never existed from the beginning and if they existed, ceased to exist, as if they never existed.

Again, revocation under Article 150(7) means the Emergency Proclamation and Ordinance exist in the books for a further six months after expiry on Sun 1 Aug. Muhyiddin may have gambled on this possibility when Takiyuddin “pre-empted” Parliament on Mon 26 July.

Opinions are not law. Only the court can declare law. If nothing ends up in court, the judge cannot decide. The court of public opinion isn’t a court of law. It’s about cases in the court of law or those which should be there.

The court of law remains about closure. If Wed 21 July does not end in court, there would be no closure. Only the court can bring closure.

Otherwise, the controversy would continue until there’s closure. If heads roll over July 21, it still doesn’t bring closure, but only provide some temporary relief as the body politik temperature may only be lowered somewhat as public anger comes down from the stratospheric heights.

Dark horse as Prime Minister . . .

No matter what happens, going forward, Agong may start looking beyond Muhyiddin for another lawmaker as Prime Minister until GE15 in 2023 or earlier if snap elections are held.

Given that no party or coalition has even a simple majority in Parliament, 112 seats, the head of state must find a formula which will see the next PM appointed.

For example, if a new informal coalition of parties can put together 112+ seats, the Agong can appoint the parliamentary leader of the smallest party as PM. There’s precedent from even before GE14, on 10 May 2018, when Mahathir with 13 MP seats became Prime Minister and formed a gov’t where all parties were considered equal, albeit on paper.

In 2008, after GE12, Sultan Raja Azlan Shah appointed Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin as Menteri Besar. He was from PAS, the smallest party in the victorious Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. His departure in Feb 2009 established the Perak case law which upheld the principle that hereditary rulers had residual powers i.e. reserve powers.

The next Prime Minister may be the proverbial dark horse. In borrowing somewhat the opening line from the ongoing Olympic Games in Tokyo, let the public speculation begin.

Alternatively, Agong can appoint a minority PM in an Interim role. The onus will be on the PM to get support across the Divide for the passage of gov’t Bills in Parliament.

Author: fernzthegreat

Joe Fernandez holds a honours degree in management, majoring in economics, and has opted from academia in law to being a jurist. He was trained professionally on the job as a journalist. He's a longtime Borneo watcher, keen on the history and legal aspects of Malaya's presence in Sabah and Sarawak. He teaches the English language privately and has emerged as a subject matter expert in public examination techniques.

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