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A taste of hypocrisy as Malaysia awaits a new government

Some legal practitioners appear to be making a fuss over the process of forming the federal government without applying the same principle to state governments.

Abdar Rahman Koya
2 minute read

Yet again, Malaysians wait in trepidation to learn who will become the next prime minister. 

And yet again, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah is thrust into a political drama before naming a prime minister. What his brother rulers of the past had probably only done once, or never at all, he has done three times in a span of just over two years.

As in the past, Sultan Abdullah has asked political parties to submit the names of their prime minister candidates, supported by statutory declarations. A first clear deadline was given: 2pm on Nov 21, 2022. 

The Agong is exercising his powers under Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution, where he can determine which candidate commands the support of the Dewan Rakyat.

But this time, we have seen an avalanche of legal pundits and commentators, citing everything from pluralism to Westminster, accompanied by a cacophony of sermons that have laid bare their hypocrisy. 

Some took it upon themselves to add a condition that Pakatan Harapan (PH) should be invited to form the government first as they have the largest shares of seats at 82 – the usual "experts" – Ambiga Sreenevasan, Tommy Thomas, Gurdial Singh Nijar and Syahredzan Johan, the latter now a PH MP with a legal background. 

Granted, these individuals have a history of being pro-PH. But let us judge them for their opinions, not for who they are. Let us set aside their political allegiances.

Thomas says Anwar’s PH must get "the first bite of the cherry" and be made the prime minister. "That is what happened in the UK," he says.

Ambiga says as PH has the most seats, they have the strongest mandate of the people "of all parties" and therefore "should be invited to form the government".

And it gets better. Gurdial and Syahredzan say the party with the most seats should be asked to form the government, and then they can get others to join them to obtain a sufficient majority!

As legal practitioners, their loyalty is to the constitution. 

So we wonder why this particular pack of expert commentators and sermonisers did not take the same view that the biggest winner should be invited to form the government in Perak and Pahang. 

In Perak, Perikatan Nasional won 26 seats, followed by PH (24) and BN (nine). In Pahang, PN got 17, BN 16 and PH eight. But in the end, we are seeing state governments formed by BN and PH.

On this matter, there is absolute silence from these legal eagles, as opposed to the noise they are making about the current process leading up to the formation of the federal government. 

But then again, perhaps they hold to what someone once famously said: consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Abdar Rahman Koya is CEO & editor of MalaysiaNow.

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