Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Academic warns against calls for king to depart from constitution in hunt for new PM

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat's comments come in the wake of an internet campaign to ask the Agong to decree for a unity government and to stop Ismail Sabri Yaakob's appointment.

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A political scientist has hit back at those who lay out the criteria for the Agong to choose the next prime minister, in the wake of calls from opposition leaders and sympathisers questioning the imminent appointment of Ismail Sabri Yaakob to the top post.

Wong Chin Huat, from Sunway University’s Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia, said the Federal Constitution makes it clear that the Agong’s choice should be based on the confidence of the majority of MPs.

“Don’t use the lame excuse as this is an extraordinary circumstance that requires extraordinary measures,” Wong said in a statement.

“When you can break the rules this time this circumstance is extraordinary enough, next time others can also break the rules for another circumstance that they think is extraordinary too.”

Wong Chin Huat.

His comments come as opposition supporters take to social media and online petition websites to call for a “unity government” that will include Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders.

Former Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan is leading one such campaign, questioning the validity of Perikatan Nasional MPs’ support for Ismail after the coalition insisted that its support was subject to the exclusion of corrupt politicians from any new administration.

On Tuesday, MalaysiaNow quoted a PKR source as saying that the opposition’s prime ministerial nominee Anwar Ibrahim was pushing for a “unity government” after it became clear that his coalition could not muster enough support from MPs.

‘Don’t follow rules only if it suits you’

Wong said the constitution merely requires the Agong to appoint an MP who is likely to command the most support from fellow MPs.

“It does not require or allow the king to choose the best leader.

“To ask the king to choose the best leader in one’s eyes even if he doesn’t command a majority is undermining both parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy,” he added.

He said the current hunt for a new prime minister, following the resignation of Muhyiddin Yassin this week, put to test Malaysia’s system of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy.

He said any argument suggesting that the king depart from following this provision would be against the principles of constitutional monarchy limiting the powers of the Agong.

“We need to uphold the due process even if the outcome is not to our liking.

“Integrity is not abiding by rules only when it suits us,” said Wong.

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