On Aug 18, the very next day after Muhyiddin Yassin finally resigned from an office he should never have held, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong issued a public statement that whoever was next appointed prime minister must secure a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat.
With that statement, His Majesty showed a mastery of basic constitutional principles central to our democracy.
The Dewan Rakyat, being the people’s house, is where any candidate hopeful of taking on the mantle of leader of this nation’s administration must submit to public scrutiny. He must prove himself to be worthy of the rakyat’s trust, as signified by a vote by their representatives in the house.
We are now told that the first meeting of the fourth session of the 14th Malaysian Parliament will be held from Sept 13 to Oct 12 but that a confidence vote for new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is not on the agenda.
Truly, our leaders embarrass us by the manner in which they are willing to cast aside the Federal Constitution for political gain, even going so far as to disregard the clear advice of the King.
Attorney-General Idrus Harun made the startling claim on Monday that there was no need for Parliament to legitimise Ismail’s appointment as prime minister! Apparently, a vote of confidence in Parliament would negate the Agong’s “absolute powers” as enshrined in the constitution.
Utter nonsense, and unworthy of further consideration.
To the rakyat, it has become crystal clear that the sole objective of this prime minister and his Cabinet is to hold on to power for as long as they can, blind to the demands of the constitution, deaf to the promptings of the King, and ignorant of the aspirations of the rakyat.
In fact, Ismail may have rendered his own administration irrelevant by the recent appointment of ex-prime minister Muhyiddin as chairman of the National Recovery Council.
In making the appointment, Ismail seems to have forgotten that the whole purpose of his administration is to ensure that Malaysia recovers from the pandemic.
To the general public, Muhyiddin’s appointment will make him the single most important person in the country, and by that token de facto prime minister. Ismail runs the risk of being viewed as the ousted prime minister’s rubber stamp.
All this can only end in tears for both Umno and Ismail. Here is a party which lost the last general election resoundingly and got kicked out of power.
Barely 22 months into its first stint in opposition, it got impatient, and one faction, courted by its arch enemy, formed a new administration only to overthrow it from within 17 months later.
The irony is that having ousted Muhyiddin and Bersatu from the seat of power, Umno, led by Ismail, inexplicably retained his Cabinet and is now on the brink of surrendering power back to him.
That is a clear signal from Umno to the rakyat that it is no longer capable of running this country.
Also, in Ismail we have a prime minister who seemingly does not have the confidence to prove his majority on the floor of the Dewan Rakyat, but also does not have confidence in himself to lead this country out of its present crisis.
Mr Prime Minister, if you do not have confidence in yourself, how can you expect the public to have confidence in you?