By Siti Saliha Osman

News that Anwar Ibrahim being granted an audience by the Agong has been the hot topic discussed in media outlets, social media platforms and online portals including in many WhatsApp groups. Rumours about the support for Anwar by MPs of various parties and factions are circulating, with all kinds of hearsay including the one that MPs from PM Muhyiddin’s own party (PPBM) are shifting their alliance to Anwar.

Many are awaiting the outcome of the upcoming audience, slotted to be held tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 October). Should Anwar manage to show proven support of the majority members of parliament on that day, would the Istana give Anwar an easy takeover of the PM’s post? Comments observed on social media showed that UMNO is being attacked for its MPs ‘giving support’ to Anwar becoming the 9th PM. Does UMNO and its MPs really support Anwar as the upcoming PM?

Anwar’s illusion of an easy takeover of PM’s post should be looked into more details by all, especially on the discretionary powers of the Agong and our Constitution. The Pakatan Harapan government was easily replaced by Perikatan Nasional with Muhyiddin as the PM when incumbent PM (Mahathir Mohamad) vacated the post willingly.

In actuality, Muhyiddin was appointed as PM ‘based on the majority support of MPs’ which the Agong was considering on individual counts, not based on political parties’ coalition. Upon being appointed, Muhyiddin subsequently formed his cabinet without consulting the leaders of parties that had supported him to be installed as PM. At the very first stage of his reign, the 8th PM was treating the cabinet appointments as his ‘personal selection’, not based on coalition parties’ nominations. That was when the ‘partyless MPs’ were given very important cabinet posts and, the MPs without positions in the coalition parties were also appointed. PN was just a ‘name’ at that point in time, yet to be officially announced.

The government, subsequently was using the ‘court of law’ to prosecute a number of MPs of its own coalition parties on various ‘corruption charges’ but leaving some ‘good boys’ in the Cabinet intact. The former PM Najib Razak was charged and found guilty of ‘corruption charges’, and currently on appeal proceedings.

Not sure what Anwar has in his mind, trying to be a PM by just informing the Agong about his ‘numbers’. Even with written proof of Statutory Declarations, replacing the PM would require sufficient ‘votes of no confidence’ in a parliament session, not as easy as by just bringing sufficient SDs to the Agong and request to replace the current PM.

Many blamed UMNO for the speculation that its MPs are supporting Anwar ‘to be the PM’. Do UMNO MPs (their lists – whether only rumors or the truth – are circulating ) really support Anwar to be new the PM, or they were just lending their ‘yesses’ in the event a ‘vote of no confidence’ happens? UMNO is the oldest party in the parliament, with a history of being the longest ruling party and its President and MPs are surely aware of the process of law regarding the Prime Minister’s position.

Due to COVID-19’s worsening situation post Sabah State Election, the Istana would not want to risk the rakyat being further exposed to the virus so may instruct the Parliament itself to decide on the future PM without a premature general election. We still have about two years to go. Parliament itself may be tasked to prove Anwar’s claim via a ‘vote of no confidence’ before selecting the new PM.

That is where UMNO’s MPs (having the biggest numbers in the Parliament less the ‘good boys’ of Muhyiddin’s cabinet) were given ‘free hand’ by its President to exercise their democracy right to vote, ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘abstain’. After being ‘trolled’ twice by the very PM that they “voted-in” (during the Federal Cabinet’s appointments and the recent Sabah Cabinet’s appointments), UMNO MPs are able to determine the outcome. Upon such a ‘vote of no confidence’, should Muhyiddin no longer have majority support, the Parliament should decide on the next PM to be installed (considering Agong’s advice not to risk the rakyat with COVID-19’s potential outbreak if the general election is being held, in case Muhyiddin wants to dissolve the Parliament to save his face).

The MPs may select a new PM who is not necessarily from Anwar’s PKR-DAP coalition. The new PM, with UMNO’s and other parties’ majority support, may still be from PN. The current government might stay, but with new PM and Cabinet members.

Pending the outcome of Anwar’s audience with Agong, speculations and rumors are ongoing in the social media platforms, however the rakyat are waiting to see ‘the wisdom of our King’ in making the best decision for the country. Muhyiddin may opt to dissolve the parliament to avoid being the first PM being impeached by the parliament, but does he want to risk the whole country being exposed with COVID-19 by conducting the general election?

In whatever situation, UMNO MPs remain as free souls except those ‘good boys’ who cherish themselves with the positions that were given to them by ‘exchanging loyalties’ to the party. This is when suddenly each and every vote of UMNO MPs in the Parliament really counts in the eyes of Muhyiddin. UMNO MPs are more than important to him now than before.

UMNO never supported Anwar as PM, nor do they want to join the PKR-DAP coalition, but UMNO leaders, MPs and members are tired of Muhyiddin’s never ending political vendetta. This is the time when UMNO DECIDES. – New Malaysia Herald.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article is solely that of the writer’s and do not necessarily reflect the stand of New Malaysia Herald.

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