Malaysia’s Political Crisis: Day Five

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Political players busy trying to break the impasse.

Highlights of the day:

PH: Dr M shouldn’t pre-empt the king’s announcement

10.55pm: Interim PM Dr Mahathir should not pre-empt the Agong by announcing a special Dewan Rakyat sitting, says the Pakatan Harapan presidential council.

In a statement following an emergency meeting, it says the power to appoint a prime minister lies with the king in line with Article 40(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

“The interim prime minister’s announcement on the call for the parliamentary sessions to choose a prime minister is a challenge to the rights and privileges of the Agong.

“As we all know, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is scheduled to meet the Council of Rulers to discuss this matter. The presidential council urges all parties to respect the discretion and authority of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on this matter,” it says.

Meanwhile, when met outside the meeting venue, PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil tells reporters that the meeting did not discuss Mahathir’s proposal for a unity government.

He adds that MPs have yet to receive any notice of the upcoming special sitting on March 2.

Johor PH challenges “new coalition” claim to state government

9pm: At a press conference in Johor tonight, Johor PH says a “new coalition” comprising Bersatu, Umno, MCA, MIC and PAS fails to garner a majority.

“Johor Harapan would like to stress that we have the support of 28 assemblypersons — nine from Harapan, 14 from DAP and five from PKR. And all are in attendance tonight.

“So, the new coalition does not have the majority to form government,” Johor Amanah Chief Aminolhuda Hassan said.

All Harapan representatives, including PKR’s Pemanis assemblyperson Chong Fat Full, were seen holding up their seat code numbers onstage.

Earlier today, the Johor Palace and Menteri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal both declared the new coalition was now in power.

The new coalition now has 27 seats while Harapan has 28 in the 56-seat Johor legislative assembly.

The sole representative who has yet to declare his allegiance is Bersatu’s Puteri Wangsa assemblyperson Mazlan Bujang. He was reported as saying he was waiting for instructions from Bersatu’s top leadership as to which coalition he should back.

Harapan MP: Can interim PM call for special Dewan Rakyat sitting?

7.45pm: A Pakatan Harapan MP asks if interim PM Dr Mahathir has the power to call for a special Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the MP says that Clause 11(3) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat only allows the “prime minister” to do so, not the interim premier.

Under Clause 11(3), the prime minister can ask the speaker of the House to call for a sitting in the interest of the public.

Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Chang Lih Kang questions why Mahathir needs to call for a special sitting to decide the prime minister candidate when the Agong completed a similar process in the past two days.

“The strangest part is I am made to understood that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will discuss the matter at the Conference of Rulers tomorrow. So, why the need to make a decision today?

“I cannot think of any other reason except that the outcome may not be in favour of him (Mahathir),” he adds.

Dr M: Muhyiddin possible candidate for PM, willing to accept Umno en-bloc

5.35pm: Dr Mahathir confirms he had a discussion with Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin this afternoon.

He says the discussion included the possibility of Muhyiddin becoming Bersatu’s candidate to be the next prime minister.

“If everybody chooses him, I’m okay,” says Mahathir, adding that he will accept if the majority of MPs choose Muhyiddin.

Asked if this means Bersatu will name two candidates, including himself, Mahathir says the party has not reached a decision on this.

Mahathir reveals that he and Muhyididn have differing views on working with Umno, with the latter prepared to accept the party en-bloc.

At the same press conference, Mahathir also confirms he has agreed to remain as Bersatu chairperson.

Dr M: No clear majority, King leaves matter to Parliament on March 2

5.30pm: Dr Mahathir says the King has found no one “with a distinct majority”.

“And because there is no distinct majority, he (the King) says the right forum is the Dewan Rakyat.

FMT

“So, Parliament will be called on the 2nd of next month…whoever has majority support in Parliament will become prime minister.

“However, if the Dewan Rakyat fails to find a person with a majority, we will have to go for a snap election,” he says.

Johor MB: We decided to work with Umno after talks with Muhyiddin

5:30pm: Johor MB Dr Sahruddin Jamal confirms that the state’s “new coalition” government comprises of his party Bersatu, Umno, MCA, MIC, PAS and “several individuals”.

The parties will next discuss “a list of names” to propose to Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar as their menteri besar candidate before they decide their exco lineup and a name for their coalition.

Asked why Johor Bersatu had decided to work with Umno, Sahruddin explained that they had done so following discussions with “top central leadership”.

Ben Tan

“I discussed with party president Muhyiddin Yassin,” he added when pressed if state party chief Mazlan Bujang was consulted.

He sidesteps a question on whether Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir was consulted.

“We, in Johor, are of the view that we needed to expedite the forming of a new government. In Johor, we used this method so that the state government could be formed,” he said.

Bersatu MPs and other leaders waiting at Muhyiddin’s house

5.25pm: Several parliamentarians and Bersatu leaders are seen arriving at Muhyiddin Yassin’s residence in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.

Among those present are Hamzah Zainuddin, Radzi Jidin, Maszlee Malik and Kamaruddin Jaafar.

However, they decline to respond when asked about the purpose of their visit to the Bersatu president’s house.

It is understood that the meeting at his house was held after Muhyiddin met with Mahathir in Putrajaya.

EC Chair: Snap polls could cost up to RM800m

5.18pm: A fresh election could cost the country between RM700 million to RM800 million, the Election Commission (EC) states.

EC chairperson Azhar Azizan Harun says this is a “guesstimate” should snap polls be called in the wake of the current political crisis.

Mohd Sahar Misni/The Star

He is asked to clarify a tweet by Ambiga who claimed she was informed by Azhar that the cost of a snap election could be between “RM750 to RM800 billion”.

Ambiga later corrected herself over the tweet, stating she meant million, not billion.

Bersih: Let rakyat choose if no PM candidate has clear majority

4.25pm: Irrespective of who gets picked, the new prime minister must apologise to the people and restore public confidence, says Bersih.

“The new prime minister and government must set the tone for reconciliation, not just among the politicians and parties, but among the rakyat,” the electoral watchdog says in a statement.

It further calls on the interim PM to request the Agong to dissolve Parliament and “return to the rakyat to confer a fresh mandate to a new government of their choice” should no candidate present a clear majority.

“This is not an ideal time for a snap election given the fact that deep structural defects of malapportionment and gerrymandering from GE14 not only remains in our electoral boundaries but has gotten worse.”

Khalid to Rina Harun, Syed Saddiq: We gave you our seat, come back to PH

3.55pm: Khalid Samad recalls how Amanah allowed Bersatu’s Rina Harun to contest in the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat despite it being earmarked for the party.

“Bersatu had no machinery except for Pakatan Harapan’s machinery from Amanah, PKR and DAP.

“I call upon Rina, come back to be with Harapan and to be honest with (her voters)… The mandate was for Harapan,” he tweets.

In an earlier tweet, he notes how PKR made way for Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in Muar, Johor, despite strong support for its candidate.

“Syed won with a 6,000-vote majority. From the 22,000 votes Syed obtained, almost 80 percent was from PKR, Amanah and DAP,” he adds.

Muhyiddin leaves Perdana Putra after more than an hour

3:50: Muhyiddin Yassin leaves Perdana Putra one hour 15 minutes after he arrived.

Mahathir had summoned him there for a meeting.

Anwar on ties between PH and Bersatu: We change by the day

3.30pm: Anwar Ibrahim indicates that PH’s ties with Bersatu are fluid.

Shafwan Zaidon

“We change by the day,” he says when asked if PH would accept Bersatu again.

Previously, Anwar had referred to Bersatu as “former friends” after Sunday’s coup attempt.

Meanwhile, despite fluidity with Bersatu, Anwar says the issue of meeting Dr Mahathir was not discussed.

Penang reps insist they did not quit Bersatu

2pm: Bersatu assemblypersons Khalib Mehtab Mohd Ishaq (Bertam) and Zolkifly Md Lazim (Teluk Bahang) insist that they have not quit their party.

They are aware that since 2012, Penang has applied the anti-hopping law against those who defect to other parties or become independent.

Sayuti Zainudin

“We did not quit Bersatu. Our party left Pakatan Harapan,” says Zolkifly.

In a statement today, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says the two elected representatives met with him at 1pm.

“In the meeting, the duo expressed their commitment to continue supporting the CM and the state Harapan government.

“It’s status quo for the two assemblypersons from Bersatu until further notice, pending developments in Putrajaya,” he adds.

Dr M set to return as Bersatu chair

1.50pm: Dr Mahathir is set to return as Bersatu chairperson after quitting the post on Monday.

PH leaders hold impromptu meet at Eastin hotel

1.40pm: PH leaders are holding an impromptu meeting at Eastin hotel in Petaling Jaya.

It is learnt that PKR lawmakers had gathered at the hotel earlier for a meeting.

Among the leaders present for the meeting are Anwar Ibrahim, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Chang Lih Kang, Lim Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang.

Kit Siang quotes Dr M: To rebuild nation and fulfil people’s hopes

1.30pm: Kit Siang says a national unity government cannot be established on treachery, deceit, corruption, betrayal of the people’s mandate or by promoting national disunity despite the idea being attractive and should be considered by all rational Malaysians.

“It is foolish and short-sighted to purportedly establish a national unity government by destroying the Pakatan Harapan government.

Shafwan Zaidon

“The ideal way to establish a national unity government is to build on the Harapan coalition and convince other political parties and entities to come together in the larger interest of the nation to build a New Malaysia – based on the Harapan mandate in the 14th General Election for a New Malaysia.

“Or to use the words of the chairman of Pakatan Harapan (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) in the foreword to Buku Harapan dated March 8, 2018, policies and actions ‘to rebuild the nation and to fulfil the hope of the people’,” he adds.

Ranau MP denies quitting PKR with Azmin’s group, then deletes denial

1.16pm: Three days after a bloc of rogue PKR MPs announced they were quitting the party, one of them has now come out to deny that he was involved in the move.

Ranau MP Jonathan Yasin maintains that he is still a PKR representative.

“For the record, I am still in PKR. I also deny that I had consented to quit PKR.

Bernama

“I will explain this matter to the (party) committee and bureau this evening,” he says in the now-deleted statement on Facebook.

After deleting the Facebook post, he uploads a new one which read: “Any issues about my position in the party will be discussed with the party’s committee members and bureau this evening. #Keep calm”.

Malay rulers to meet Agong tomorrow

12.55pm: The Malay rulers are set to meet with the Agong tomorrow before Friday prayers.

Guan Eng: Dr M doesn’t want to fulfil Harapan manifesto

12.55pm: Guan Eng says Dr Mahathir is no longer committed to fulfilling the promises outlined in the PH manifesto.

He says this was conveyed to him during their meeting on Feb 25.

Dr M back at his office

12.25pm: Mahathir is back in Perdana Putra.

Khalid likens Dr M’s unity government plan to a dictatorship

12.20pm: Khalid Samad likens Dr Mahathir’s unity government plan to a dictatorship.

“Mahathir has left Pakatan Harapan when Bersatu left. He wants a mandate for himself on a personal capacity, no ties, no commitments to anyone.

“Full and total authority. How can we agree to a dictatorship?” he tweets.

Khalid says PH supporting Anwar was the right thing to do despite its risks.

Mukhriz to stay as head of PH plus Bersatu government in Kedah

12.05pm: Mukhriz Mahathir will remain as Kedah’s MB as he has obtained the support of PH.

At a press conference, he says the Kedah government now consists of Bersatu and PH.

However, it is not a unity government as envisioned by Dr Mahathir, he adds.

“Everything remains the same except we are now known as a Bersatu-Pakatan Harapan government in Kedah. It’s business as usual for all sectors,” Mukhriz says.

He says he had an audience with the Kedah ruler today and briefed him about the current political situation.

Mukhriz adds that he also submitted 18 support letters to the sultan, saying the decision among them was unanimous to keep him as MB.

“The Sultan accepted the support letters. We urge the rakyat to remain calm and rational.

NST

“Kedah is not impacted. We are just doing this to stabilise the state. Our focus is in Kedah, and we hope the crisis will be resolved soon,” he stresses.

Accompanying Mukhriz are DAP, PKR and Amanah assemblypersons.

Dr M leaves palace

12pm: Dr Mahathir leaves the palace after a one-hour audience with the Agong.

Dr M arrives at Istana Negara

10.57am: Dr Mahathir arrives at the palace, entering via Gate 1.

Dr M to meet with Agong

10am: Dr Mahathir is enroute to meet with the Agong at 11am.

Jabatan Penerangan