KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 19 — The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's message for politicians to create a “new political landscape” was an indication for them to not embroil Malaysia in further uncertainty, according to analysts.
They interpreted the Agong's call, which PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim revealed following Tuesday’s audience, to mean he wanted the country’s extended political crisis to end with the selection of the ninth prime minister.
As the next administration will again be a coalition government with a slim majority, it would be as vulnerable to a loss of support as had brought down the Perikatan Nasional.
“The King was either advising or admonishing the political leaders, in a sense telling them that, ‘I will make a decision to appoint whoever is the prime minister, but please after that don’t fool around anymore, and don’t try to rock the boat anymore,” suggested Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
Political observer Kartini Aboo Talib said Malaysia’s political leaders should take the Agong’s message to mean that they should set aside their personal ambitions for the moment and concentrate on steering the country out of the pandemic.
After Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as the prime minister on Monday, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah said it would not be safe to hold a general election as many states remained Covid-19 red zones.
“When the Yang di-Pertuan Agong addressed that he wanted the 'aman dan nyaman’ (safe and comfortable) pact, it was to inform every MP that none of them has a solid majority in the Parliament, (to) stop bickering, and form a power-sharing and consensus that will help the nation towards (executing) the recovery plan,” Kartini told Malay Mail.
According to University of Malaya’s (UM) associate professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi, the Agong’s message was likely also a signal to politicians that there must be bipartisan support for the next government’s efforts to combat the pandemic.
“The Agong’s message implies that he wants any government to be formed to involve all parties. In other words, a mixed, or unity government must happen, as no single party commands the majority support and this could lead to further conflicts,” he told Malay Mail.
Despite Anwar saying on Tuesday that party leaders reached a consensus during the audience to eschew “old” and “tired” politics, however, Oh predicted that the truce might not hold.
With the next general election less than two years away, he said the parties were likely to be gearing up for the real contest then.
Oh said it was “without a doubt” that simmering rivalries would be renewed, even if the parties were nominally allied in the new government.
“A unity government is a very good, grand, and lofty idea but the same question still lingers: who is heading such a grand unity government?
“It can be called all sorts: a partisan government, a grand unity government and so on, but concerning the question of who is leading the government, I think they will still be fighting over this,” he predicted
Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said as much after Muhyiddin resigned, insisting that the next government should last only as long as it would take to safely hold a general election.
Awang said this would be the only solution if the political parties could not put aside their hostilities in order to effectively govern.
However, Kartini predicted that the peace will hold if, as it currently appeared, that Umno would be the party in charge, noting that the PN parties seemed willing to support it.
Yesterday, federal lawmakers submitted their individual nominations for the next prime minister to the Istana Negara in the form of statutory declarations.
The Conference of Rulers has scheduled a meeting for Friday, believed to deliberate on the identity of the next prime minister.
Currently, the frontrunners for the position were Umno’s Ismail Sabri Yaakob for the PN side and Anwar representing Pakatan Harapan and the other parties that were in the Opposition.
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