A political analyst foresees the government’s majority support being challenged when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes, but two other pundits expect the effort to be easily defeated.
Azmi Hassan, formerly of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said the sitting, which some observers think will be next month, would be an opportunity for the opposition to prove that Muhyiddin Yassin had lost majority support as prime minister.
This was why the opposition parties had been pushing for Parliament to reconvene, he told FMT.
The push received a boost recently when two MPs from Umno – Nazri Aziz and Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub – announced that they were no longer supporting the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
On Wednesday, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong said Parliament can be allowed to convene during the current emergency period, which lasts until August.
If it turned out that Muhyiddin had indeed lost majority support, Azmi said, the King would most likely appoint an interim prime minister and Cabinet to serve for the duration of the emergency.
“I think the King, with his powers during the emergency, can give political parties a chance to form a coalition government for the time being before the next general election,” he said, noting that this was done recently in Italy.
But James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute told FMT he believed PN’s fate rested on Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun, who can allow or disallow a no-confidence motion to be tabled.
“Even if PN doesn’t have a simple majority, it has to be tested on the floor of Parliament and you really need a vote of no confidence,” he said.
“The problem with the Malaysian system is that the speaker is on the side of the prime minister.”
If Azhar were to disallow the vote, he said, Nazri and Jazlan could choose to sit on the “middle bench” instead of joining the opposition.
Chin expects the Dewan Rakyat sitting to be delayed beyond March since the dates for proceedings are usually set by the prime minister.
“Muhyiddin will try to delay it as much as possible,” he said.
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs predicts that “nothing much” will happen when Parliament reconvenes, pointing out that the government of the day controls parliamentary proceedings and can easily block off no-confidence motions as it did last year.
However, he told FMT, the King could opt to ask Muhyiddin to resign if he had lost majority support.
“In a traditional Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, the prime minister would honourably resign or call for fresh elections if he perceives a loss of parliamentary confidence in him,” he said.
“But if such gentlemanly behaviour is not forthcoming, the King could exercise his Westminster constitutional duties to advise or warn the prime minister to expeditiously do the right and honourable thing.”
If this were to happen, Oh said, it was likely that a new prime minister instead of an interim one would be appointed. – FMT