Crucial day as Malaysian PM Muhyiddin is set to meet King, PN allies

KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin faces a crucial day on Wednesday (Aug 11), after opponents ramped up pressure this week in a bid to prove to Malaysia’s King that the government’s majority has evaporated.

Not only will the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president have a pre-Cabinet audience with Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, but he is also due to meet chiefs of his beleaguered Perikatan Nasional (PN) pact in the afternoon after a week where the premier appears to have slipped even further from the target of more than half the 220 members of Parliament, where two seats remain vacant.

The Straits Times reported on Tuesday that letters representing the 105 MPs of the opposition were sent to the palace on Monday, confirming they reject Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s leadership.

This added to the 13 Umno statutory declarations that were made public at the same time in an effort to coax the King to request that the Prime Minister resign.

Despite 11 Umno MPs withdrawing from his government last Tuesday, Mr Muhyiddin said the next day that he informed Sultan Abdullah he was convinced he still had a majority based on statutory declarations he possessed, and that the monarch had agreed to the matter being determined in a parliamentary confidence vote next month.

But critics accused him of misleading the King, who had summoned the premier to discuss whether he should resign as constitutionally required when the prime minister loses his parliamentary majority.

Should Sultan Abdullah be satisfied from the declarations he has received that Mr Muhyiddin no longer commands the confidence of the majority of MPs, he can appoint a successor to lead until the next elections which must be held in two years.

According to precedent, the sovereign may do so whether or not the incumbent offers his resignation.

Alternatively, Parliament can be dissolved to pave way for elections in 60 days. Previously, fears of stoking an already raging Covid-19 pandemic as seen after the Sabah polls last year had precluded both the palace and politicians from advocating this option. However, the government has repeatedly insisted all adults will be vaccinated by the end of October, and close to 70 per cent have already received at least one dose.

But given that not all 105 opposition MPs have sent in personally signed declarations disavowing support for Mr Muhyiddin, he could still hang on until the confidence vote is held.

However, there have been growing calls for the parliamentary sitting to be brought forward, and Sultan Abdullah may press the Prime Minister to do so.

On Monday, Umno uploaded two letters sent by party chief Zahid Hamidi to the palace last week, informing Sultan Abdullah that 14 of the party’s 38 lawmakers had withdrawn support from the government, along with 13 statutory declarations.

Deputy premier Ismail Sabri Yaakob – who leads a band of Umno MPs refusing to quit government – had insisted last Friday that 31 out of 42 lawmakers from the Umno-led Barisan Nasional remained steadfast behind the coalition’s decision early last year to form the Muhyiddin-led government until fresh elections are held.

But the Umno vice-president’s claim has been in doubt after at least three MPs named among the 31 insisted they had not taken such a stand.

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