Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Math and procedures shield Muhyiddin from latest attempts to dislodge him

Analysts say the prime minister will likely retain his position despite news of fresh talks among key opposition leaders and the possibility of a no-confidence vote once Parliament reopens.

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Political analysts and observers have questioned the likelihood of Muhyiddin Yassin losing power once Parliament reconvenes, despite his fragile majority and the revelation of fresh talks between key opposition leaders in the wake of a series of royal audiences with politicians last week.

Not only does the opposition still lack the numbers needed to form the government, they say, there are also procedural realities which would take time for Parliament to reconvene before any attempt to dislodge the prime minister can be initiated.

“There will be no vote of no confidence unless the speaker agrees,” analyst James Chin told MalaysiaNow. “Only the speaker can bring the motion to vote – nobody else can do this.”

There has been a renewed buzz among some opposition leaders of a possible change of government following what is seen as pressure from the palace on Putrajaya to reconvene Dewan Rakyat sittings, suspended since January under the virus emergency.

MalaysiaNow recently reported that fresh talks had been held between PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim and a group of Umno MPs led by their president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and former prime minister Najib Razak.

It was also revealed that a long delayed agreement to form an alliance was set to be inked between the two parties in the coming days.

But Chin is not convinced that Muhyiddin can be overthrown.

He doubts that Anwar will be able to obtain the numbers – support from at least 111 MPs based on the current composition of the Dewan Rakyat – to oust the prime minister.

He said Muhyiddin still has at least 90 MPs with him.

“So he only needs another 20 behind him. Also bear in mind that Umno is split,” Chin said.

While it is hard to tell where MPs stand, it is believed that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) ruling coalition comprises 50 seats from Bersatu, PAS and STAR, as well as 62 more from Gabungan Parti Sarawak, Barisan Nasional, PBS and several independent MPs.

The opposition meanwhile is made up of several blocs, mainly Pakatan Harapan, Sabah’s Warisan and smaller groups such as former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Pejuang and the new party of former minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

Lee Kuok Tiung agreed that Anwar still lacks the numbers needed to topple the PN government.

“Within Umno, we can see portions of them who believe in political stability,” said the Universiti Malaysia Sabah academic.

“Even Nazri Aziz recently issued a statement saying that MPs should not talk about elections but focus on the people’s welfare and tackling the pandemic,” Lee said, referring to the Padang Rengas MP from Umno who earlier this year revoked his support for Muhyiddin.

Sarawak political analyst Jeniri Amir meanwhile expressed doubts about any plan to topple the government, saying there would be consequences on the personal as well as party and national levels.

He agreed that the reopening of Parliament would provide the necessary checks and balance to the government’s policies in battling the pandemic.

“Parliament would be the best platform for MPs to debate the measures proposed by the government and to voice out the aspirations of the people during this difficult time.

“The focus should be on tackling Covid-19, enhancing the vaccination rate and dealing with the economic crisis. Otherwise they will be seen as more concerned about their power than anything else.”

Jeniri added that any attempt to destabilise the government would go against the Agong’s decree.

“It is possible to change the government but then again, is this the right thing to do at this critical time, when the Agong’s decree is to ensure the stability of the government?” he asked, adding that Putrajaya’s National Recovery Plan had already targeted the reopening Parliament by September or October, subject to the Covid-19 situation.

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