Amid speculation that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration is on the edge of a precipice, former attorney-general Tommy Thomas has cautioned against those seeking a general election.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Thomas, who referred to Muhyiddin as the “outgoing prime minister” said there is talk the latter might advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament.
“His Majesty should turn him down,” he added.
Thomas said it would be irresponsible to hold an election amid the surge in Covid-19 cases, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives nationwide.
“The Sabah polls (last year) showed us how dangerous it is (to have an election during a pandemic).
“I am not only talking about people casting their ballots on polling day but also the campaign period. For democracy to thrive, you cannot do away with the campaign period and campaigning could lead to more infections and deaths.
“So, holding an election at this juncture would be a colossal catastrophe and a calamity of massive proportions.
“It would be reckless and irresponsible for the outgoing prime minister to ask for this. It would show he is only concerned about his personal future and not the people,” he added.
On the same note, Thomas referred to how the cabinet had advised the monarch to proclaim a state of emergency in Sarawak until Feb 22 next year to postpone the state polls due to the Covid-19.
“This was the correct decision. So how can you do the right thing for Sarawak but, on the other hand, ask for a general election? he added.
‘Take the dignified option, step down’
Previously, Muhyiddin said he would allow lawmakers to decide his fate through a motion of confidence when the Lower House sits in September.
He also said the king had consented to this.
This followed claims that the prime minister had lost his majority after Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and party lawmakers aligned to him rescinded their support for Muhyiddin.
However, Muhyiddin insisted otherwise, while his critics demanded that Parliament be convened as soon as possible to vote on the motion, alleging that the September date would provide a window to orchestrate defections.
Meanwhile, Thomas said that under these circumstances, Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution becomes applicable.
Article 43(4) stipulates that a prime minister is required to tender his resignation if he ceases to command the confidence of the majority of MPs.
If it is true that Muhyiddin no longer has the majority, Thomas advised the prime minister to opt for the dignified approach and step down.
“Instead of losing the floor vote, the outgoing prime minister should preserve his dignity. He should seek an audience with the king and tender his resignation,” he added.
Muhyiddin was sworn in as prime minister on March 1 last year, following a political coup that led to the collapse of the 22-month-old Pakatan Harapan government.
His administration has come under intense criticism for its failure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, despite convincing the king to declare an emergency, which also led to the suspension of Parliament. – Malaysiakini