The King might throw out request to dissolve parliament

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Sabri would create a new record as the first prime minister whose request to dissolve Parliament is rejected by the King, who may not wish to become the fall guy if this year’s rainy season turns for the worse.

Ahmad Zahid Hamid, president of UMNO, can heave a sigh of relief. He could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel after the High Court on Sept 23 acquitted him of all 40 bribery charges. He was so grateful that he boastfully said he has had faith in the judiciary since “day one”, when the hypocrite had wanted to sack the Chief Justice and Attorney General just before the verdict.

However, the former deputy prime minister isn’t out of the woods yet. The president of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) is still on trial in another corruption case where he is accused of 47 criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering charges. Attorney General Idrus Harun has decided to appeal against Zahid’s acquittal.

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Still, Zahid isn’t worried though. He knew that the prosecution’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to free him was just another political drama. It would be too obvious if AG Idrus refused to appeal. It would show that the Attorney General’s Chambers had received orders from those who walk the corridors of power to deliberately screw up the case in order to free the crook.

PM Ismail Sabri has lost in the game of brinkmanship. Under tremendous pressure from his own party, the turtle-egg man blinked. The accidental prime minister is powerless against his party president, whose signature to sign the letter of candidacy (“surat watikah”) for all UMNO candidates to contest in the upcoming 15th General Election is more powerful than Sabri’s premiership.

That was the power that incarcerated former Prime Minister Najib Razak did not possess. If the party president’s signature isn’t required for UMNO candidates to contest in the national election, Zahid would be game-over ages ago. If only Najib had been smarter – contested the 2018 UMNO leadership election and won the presidency – he might not need to spend his time in prison today.

After the High Court set him free, Zahid is not as desperate as before for the general election, which is not due till Sept 14, 2023. His remaining 47 corruption charges would take years to conclude. Even if the prosecution’s appeal against his acquittal succeeded, it would probably take two years before the whole appeal process through the Court of Appeal and Federal Court is finally exhausted.

Crooked Zahid just wanted the High Court to free him so that he can contest in the upcoming election. The Federal Constitution’s Article 48(5) says a person is “immediately” disqualified from being nominated, elected or appointed to be a federal lawmaker in either the Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Negara, upon the person’s conviction and sentencing to a minimum one-year jail term or a minimum fine of RM2,000.

Worse, under Article 48(3), a person remains disqualified from being an MP for five years from the day he or she is released from imprisonment. Had Zahid been convicted, his ambition to become the next prime minister will vanish. And he would be long forgotten after he served his jail sentence and walked out of the prison. His political career would be over.

So, why is Zahid still pushing for a snap election this year, with heavy rains and floods associated with the annual monsoon season, which typically starts around late November and could last until March (next year)? Last year, the country saw eight of the 11 states hit by floods in December. At least 54 were killed, while 60,000 people were forced into relief shelters.

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The arrogant UMNO president has mocked the Opposition’s rejection of election this year, arguing that they are afraid of losing, largely due to UMNO’s big win in the Melaka (Nov 2021) and Johor (March 2022) state elections. However, based on Zahid’s incredible confidence, UMNO could still win next year, could it not? So, what’s the difference if the election is called next year – after the monsoon season is over?

A week is a long time in politics. Zahid wants to become the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia as soon as possible. He has already set the record as the only UMNO president who is not the prime minister since independence in 1957 – a humiliation. But there are other strategic reasons why he is pushing PM Sabri, his junior party colleague, to call for a snap election this year.

First of all, Zahid and his minions believed that UMNO should strike when the iron is hot, taking advantage of the jailing of Najib to win sympathy votes from gullible Malays who still believe the crook is innocent. Second, UMNO typically wins when voter turnout is low, hence the best time is to hold an election when it floods. Third, it’s easier to cheat when dubious votes can be switched or swapped during monsoon season.

Fourth, the UMNO chief flexed his muscle to show that when he ordered Sabri to jump, the incompetent premier can only ask how high. On Friday (Sept 30), the top five UMNO leadership – party president Zahid Hamidi, deputy president Mohamad Hasan, and the three vice-presidents (Khaled Nordin, Mahdzir Khalid and Ismail Sabri himself) – met and agreed to dissolve Parliament this year.

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The lame duck premier said he agreed to UMNO’s call for the general election to be held this year. Even if people eventually perish due to floods, people’s anger will not be on Zahid alone. The turtle-egg man still has no clue that he is being made the “poster boy” to take all the blame when things go south. As the country’s leader, Sabri cannot point his finger at Zahid and claim ignorance.

Fifth, UMNO is absolutely afraid that inflation could get worse next year to the extent of triggering a recession. The local currency – Ringgit – is expected to continue its free fall for the remaining 2022, and even till middle of next year because the US Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates for at least another year. People are going to be very angry over skyrocketing prices of goods.

After losing power for the first time in history in the 2018 General Election, UMNO cannot afford another defeat. It also helps that the opposition parties are in disarray and failed to unite to avoid multi-cornered contests. On the same Friday Sabri was forced to agree to dissolve the Parliament, UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan made a pre-emptive strike.

Maslan announced that UMNO vice-president, who is also PM Ismail Sabri, would meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) to dissolve the Parliament, paving the way for a General Election this year, widely speculated to be in November. However, the prime minister might not be able to convince the Malaysian King to dissolve the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House of Representative).

While Article 43 of the Federal Constitution gives authority to the prime minister, who is the head of the executive branch, to decide whether to seek an audience and request the King to dissolve the House, the King may prologue or dissolves Parliament under Article 55 (2). This means PM Sabri could only advise the King, but it’s the monarch’s prerogative to dissolve the Parliament.

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In fact, it was Ismail Sabri himself, who said in June this year that he cannot get ahead of the King by announcing the date for the 15th General Election. He also said that after discussion with the UMNO top leadership, and brought to the party’s Supreme Council and later Barisan Nasional Supreme Council, the matter has to be discussed in Cabinet, who would then give him the mandate to seek an audience with the King.

Interestingly, Ahmad Maslan has deliberately and prematurely announced that the PM would seek an audience with the King – even before the Cabinet agrees to UMNO’s plan to call a snap election. Therefore, it was already disrespectful to the monarch when UMNO bypassed the Cabinet. Heck, the power-hungry UMNO warlords have not even discussed with the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council.

Did Sabri lie when he said in June that he had to get the Cabinet’s mandate to seek an audience with the King? Or did he lie now that he can go directly to the King without the Cabinet’s mandate? It’s worth mentioning that it was the King who appointed a “Jemaah Menteri” (Cabinet of Ministers) and the Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to Parliament.

UMNO has only 38 MPs and even if included the entire Barisan Nasional, the coalition has merely 42 MPs. It’s not rocket science that PM Sabri or UMNO does not represent the majority of the MPs in the 222-seat Parliament. Without the mandate from the Cabinet, the King could assume that the Prime Minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representative.

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The King could order Sabri to table a motion of confidence in his leadership. There could be a new prime minister if the monarch disagrees to the request to dissolve the Parliament based on public order or national security – the same way how the King rejected then-PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s request for a Proclamation of Emergency in Oct 2020, consented on Jan 12, 2021, but refused to extend the emergency rule after it ended on August 1, 2021.

And this is the sixth reason why Zahid has pushed, and the moron Sabri has agreed, to call for the general election in the middle of unpredictable heavy rains. King Sultan Abdullah will get all the blame when lives are lost as people would surely question why the monarch was insensitive and agreed to an election at the wrong time. The UMNO politicians would just point their fingers at the monarch.

Sabri would create a new record as the first prime minister whose request to dissolve Parliament is rejected by the King, who may not wish to become the fall guy if this year’s rainy season turns for the worse. The suspension of UMNO warlord Tajuddin Abdul Rahman and Alor Setar UMNO division chief Yusof Ismail was to send a message – Sabri could be suspended if he does not play ball. – Finance Twitter