The palace’s decision to reject Muhyiddin Yassin’s request for an emergency proclamation indicates that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong wants to steer clear of the power struggle among politicians and is leaving the prime minister to face Parliament, analysts said.
Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional government is now weaker after the rejection, and all eyes are waiting for the next move by the 73-year-old who has been prime minister for just under eight months.
“Muhyiddin and his government are the losers here. He isn’t doing more to fight Covid-19 and the ailing economy too. His credibility is surely taking a hit.
“The middle ground (voters) will wake up tomorrow and trust him less,” independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said.
Khoo said the king must have studied the current situation and concluded that the Covid-19 pandemic, although serious, did not warrant an emergency.
“The health director-general and his team have been keeping the situation under control. The king has sent a clear message to Muhyiddin that he isn’t keen to be dragged into any political power struggle,” Khoo said.
The proposal for an emergency proclamation had been purportedly to address the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, but critics charge that Muhyiddin would have used it to stop parliamentary and democratic processes so as to retain power.
Chief Executive Officer of the Ilham Centre Hisommuddin Bakar said the king was right to reject the bid for an emergency and the decree will only strengthen the people’s confidence in the constitutional monarchy.
“At the same time, the decision comes across as a slap to Muhyiddin cabinet’s for mooting a half-baked move which the people are not in favour of.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has reminded politicians to stay away from any elements that could hamper the government’s efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hisomuddin said.
It was clear from early on that Muhyiddin had lost control of his government and his wanting to impose an emergency showed this, political scientist Dr Wong Chin Huat said.
To face Parliament, which will convene on November 2, and to pass a test of confidence in the vote for Budget 2021, Muhyiddin should strike a confidence and supply agreement with the Pakatan Harapan bloc, Wong added.
Hisomuddin too believes that Muhyiddin’s government still has room to negotiate to pass Budget 2021 and to stop attempts of a no-confidence vote against him.
Khoo on the other hand, believes that the Pagoh MP’s days as prime minister are numbered.
“(What happens next will) depend on how Muhyiddin takes it from here.
“But his administration’s days are numbered. After the emergency decision, many in Umno trust him less, too. I am sure it (proposal for emergency) was decided without consulting Umno,” Khoo said.
Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohamad Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia said Muhyiddin should step down if he failed to defend his majority in Parliament.
“When he steps down, the king appoints someone who has a majority to be the new PM. If there’s no one with a majority, a general election is inevitable,” he said.
Khoo believes Umno might prefer to go for general elections to regain power, as it is confident of sealing victory with allies in Barisan Nasional, PAS and Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
Last night, after the king’s decree not to proclaim an emergency, Muhyiddin’s house in Kuala Lumpur was a hive of activity as ministers and senior politicians gathered.
There were reports citing unnamed sources saying Muhyiddin had to be convinced not to resign.
The Prime Minister’s Office also issued a statement to cancel a meeting originally planned for today between Muhyiddin and state chief ministers and menteris besar.
Umno veteran Shahrir Samad, said there was little room left for Muhyiddin’s survival.
Muhyiddin was Umno deputy president but was sacked in 2016 over his criticism of Najib Razak’s handling of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
He then co-founded Bersatu with Dr Mahathir Mohamad to take on a common enemy – a Najib-led Umno – in the 2018 general election with their PH allies.
Twenty-two months after the 2018 polls victory, Muhyiddin led Bersatu to desert PH, and became prime minister with the support of Umno, PAS and Sarawak parties.
But the stability of Muhyiddin’s government was perpetually in doubt as Umno was always agitating for a bigger role in government, while PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim never ceased his ambition to take the top job.
With the spectre of being ousted by MPs through a confidence vote or having his budget rejected, Muhyiddin’s cabinet sought royal consent to take emergency powers and suspend the legislature, using escalating Covid-19 infection numbers as a pretext.
Yesterday, the king rejected the request, in what Shahrir described as a moral defeat for Muhyiddin.
“The king’s rejection of the emergency is akin to moral defeat for Muhyiddin,” Shahrir said.
The former Johor Baru MP also questioned the fate of the nation led by a prime minister whose proposal has been rejected by the ruler.
“Although he (Muhyiddin) was accompanied by the senior ministers, IGP and the chief of the armed forces, the head of state was still not convinced,” Shahrir said. – TMI