Dr Mahathir Mohamad today lashed out at his former protege Muhyiddin Yassin, accusing the prime minister of using the Agong’s name to remain in power under emergency rule.
The former prime minister, who leads a small group of opposition MPs under the Pejuang bloc, also said the emergency declaration was illegal.
He likewise questioned the move to retain Muhyiddin as prime minister under the emergency rule.
“By retaining the prime minister’s powers, the right to advise the Agong is also retained. This means whatever is done in the name of the Agong is on the advice of the prime minister,” he said.
He said the move meant that actions under the emergency rule would depict the Agong as a “cruel dictator”.
He also said the actions taken to battle the Covid-19 pandemic could be achieved under existing laws.
“Since the declaration of emergency, not one action taken to combat the Covid-19 pandemic was something that could only be done under emergency laws,” said Mahathir.
He said claims that the war on the Covid-19 pandemic could be more effective with emergency powers were a “lie”.
Mahathir also claimed that Muhyiddin had already lost the confidence of the majority of MPs when he advised the Agong to declare a state of emergency to fight the virus.
“The government today is not subjected to laws, and has lied in saying that containing Covid-19 would need emergency laws, while abusing the name of the Agong in order to be protected from accusations of wrongdoing, silencing the people and their representatives by suspending Parliament, committing corruption, threatening to punish those who question the government’s actions, acting against the legal provisions, hurting the economy and people’s social lives, and ruling as a dictator who can never be opposed,” said Mahathir.
The declaration of emergency last month came amid threats by several Umno MPs led by former prime minister Najib Razak to quit the Perikatan Nasional government, despite repeated reminders by the palace to politicians not to precipitate a power vacuum in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last week, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah consented to the appointment of former chief justice Arifin Zakaria to lead the committee to advise him throughout the emergency period which expires in August.
In detailing the nature of the emergency last month, Muhyiddin had said a civilian government would remain despite the suspension of Parliament to prevent snap polls, with all daily activities to be allowed.
He had also promised to call for a general election if the special committee felt that the public health situation was under control.
“This is my commitment which I will fulfil,” he added.