M’sia can ‘buy time’ if there’s political ceasefire

M’sia can ‘buy time’ if there’s political ceasefire.

High time gov’t, Opposition, speak the same language until GE15 for political stability.

There’s no reason why Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin cannot unilaterally go ahead with his 7-Point Plan for the Opposition and ensure greater political stability. That’s among his options for the Way Forward.

Briefly, these have been reported as Senior Ministerial perks for the Opposition leader, anti-defection Bill, lawmakers get equal allocations, balanced representation in Special Parliamentary Select Committees, voting rights for those who have reached 18 years, discussion of Bills with the Opposition, and GE15 by July 2022.

Muhyiddin’s estimated 100 seats in Parliament remains much larger than any possible combination that the Opposition can put together. Again, therein lies the formula for political stability at least until GE15 in 2023 or much earlier.

It may be recalled that the Agong himself declared before Sun 1 Mar last year that no one had the majority in Parliament. That statement from the past may have now caught up with Muhyiddin and the Opposition. It haunts their future in politics.

In law, Muhyiddin may have no legitimacy, except that provided by the Agong under Article 39. The Prime Minister did not obtain the consent of the governed. Sovereignty resides with the people.

Pakatan Harapan (PH), which has 89 seats in Parliament, has urged the other estimated 31 MPs in the Opposition to back Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister.

That may be easier said than done if we go by various statements in the media from time to time on the Opposition Leader as Prime Minister in Waiting.

Since the Opposition changing its mind on Muhyiddin’s olive branch remains moot, he can probably consider falling back on a gov’t and Cabinet of MPs across the political Divide in Parliament. It’s unlikely that the head of state would express any reservations since there’s no alternative majority.

Interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who planned a gov’t of MPs, was overtaken by events when the Agong appointed Muhyiddin Yassin as Prime Minister on Sun 1 Mar last year.

The media has reported that the Prime Minister will be at the Istana on Mon 16 Aug at 12 noon.

It’s unusual that he will be at the Istana on a Mon. Generally, Muhyiddin briefs the Agong every Wed before the weekly Cabinet meeting.

The Prime Minister can alternatively raise the prospects of including representatives of the Opposition in the Cabinet as Full Ministers without forming a unity gov’t.

There’s also widespread speculation, fuelled by talk within Bersatu itself, that Muhyiddin may offer to resign. If so, given the fact that there’s no alternative majority, he can probably offer to serve as Interim Prime Minister until GE15 in 2023, or earlier if a majority emerges in Parliament.

Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution states: “If the Prime Minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives, then, unless at his request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the Cabinet.”

If the PM advises for a dissolution, the Agong will still retain discretion under Article 40(2)(b) to either accept or reject the advice.

If Muhyiddin has no intention of offering to resign, he may have various options, provided the Agong goes along.

If the idea of a gov’t and Cabinet of MPs goes ahead, the Agong acting on the PM’s advice would disband the present Cabinet. Both are ideas whose time may have come.

It would take at least two weeks to form the new Cabinet i.e. by Merdeka Day on Tues 31 Aug.

The Deputy Prime Minister-designate must preferably be not from the same ethnic group and religion as the Prime Minister.

Again, it goes without saying that the Cabinet must reflect the demography of the nation across both sides of the South China Sea.

Since the Cabinet isn’t political, it wouldn’t be bloated like the present set up.

Having said that, a prospective Cabinet member must have a significant number of lawmakers behind him or her. That would facilitate the passage of 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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