On the eve of former Johor chief minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s swearing-in ceremony as Malaysia’s eighth Prime Minister, his immediate predecessor Mahathir Mohamad made public a list of 114 Members of Parliament (MPs) who are in support of his reappointment as the nation’s premier.
Dr Mahathir in a statement on Sat (29 Feb) said that he has written a letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah — the king of Malaysia and the head of state — explaining the current circumstances as well as the support of the MPs who are backing his appointment as the country’s eighth PM.
“I hope the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong will accept my letter and explanation,” he said.
Notable MPs in the list released by Dr Mahathir include Bagan MP and Democratic Action Party (DAP) chief Lim Guan Eng, Muar MP and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, Port Dickson MP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim, and Petaling Jaya MP and Bersih rally organiser Maria Chin Abdullah.
A simple majority of 112 MPs is required for Dr Mahathir to be PM.
Mr Anwar told a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Sat that the number of MPs in support of Dr Mahathir far outweighed that of his “rival”.
Mr Muhyiddin’s appointment as Prime Minister received royal assent from the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on Sat, which the Istana Negara — or National Palace — said was “in line with Article 40(2)(a) and Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution”.
Article 40(2)(a) provides for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s capacity to act according to his own discretion in appointing a prime minister, while Article 43(2)(a) provides for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s appointment of an MP — who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of MPs — as the prime minister.
Mr Muhyiddin, a former Umno cadre, served as Malaysia’s deputy PM from Apr 2009 to Jul 2015 prior to being dismissed from both his position and the political party for publicly criticising then-PM Najib Razak’s handling of the multi-billion-dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
Following his exit from Umno, Mr Muhyiddin became one of the founding members of the Bersatu party, taking up the role of president alongside Dr Mahathir as the party chairman.
Bersatu’s alliance with other component parties under the Pakatan Harapan banner contributed to the coalition’s victory against the Barisan Nasional — the latter of whom had governed Malaysia for slightly over six decades — in the 14th General Election in May 2018.
While he received praise for speaking out against corruption at the expense of being sacked from his post and Umno then, Mr Muhyiddin’s current appointment as PM has stirred discontent and anger among many members of the public.
Mr Muhyiddin was one of the PH politicians seen attending a political gathering at Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya with opposition politicians from Umno and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), as well as Azmin Ali’s PKR bloc.
Keywords and hashtags such as “traitor” and “#notmypm” began circulating on social media platforms such as Twitter mere hours after Mr Muhyiddin’s appointment was announced, and two petitions were made to protest what the public has deemed to be “a betrayal of the trust and mandate of the Rakyat given to Pakatan Harapan leaders”.
None of us voted for kleptocrats. None of us voted for criminals. We voted for a new dawn. We voted because we believed we could eradicate corruption in the system. We voted because we thought it would make a difference. We voted for a better Malaysia. Not this bullshit. #NotMyPM
— Sir Sexcalibur ???? (@NerwinNair3) February 29, 2020
This is a man who once said he’s Malay first and Malaysian second, never forget that #NotMyPM
— jayyyy (@jaymahen12) February 29, 2020
“This is a selfish action to benefit a few elite groups to usurp the welfare and confidence of the Rakyat for a stable and peaceful Malaysia,” according to Chung Shin Ho, the creator of one of the petitions.
The petition on Change.org — which has garnered over 74,000 signatories as of 1.15 a.m. on Sun (1 Mar) — was endorsed by Mukhriz Mahathir, one of Dr Mahathir’s sons.
Many Malaysians had also stepped outside to gather at Dataran Merdeka in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Sat night, in a show of solidarity against the apparent lack of due democratic process leading up to Mr Muhyiddin’s appointment.
In spite of how bad the situation is, it's inspiring to see people turning out and using making themselves known.
— mikklebakk (@mikklebakk) February 29, 2020
We cannot give up here. We have come too far and fought too hard to stop advocating for a healthy government. It breaks my heart to know I might not live long enough to see Malaysia ever see that day. But we must try. #NotMyPM
— prav (@sp00kyseezuhn) February 29, 2020
Mr Muhyiddin’s swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to take place at 10.30 a.m. on Sun morning (1 Mar).
Lawyer and National Human Rights Society (Hakam) chief Lim Wei Jiet told Astro Awani in an interview that it is possible for Dr Mahathir and the MPs supporting him to bring a challenge against the King’s decision to appoint Mr Muhyiddin as PM.
“I believe that any decision can be challenged in a court of law, notwithstanding the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decision … Going to court is an avenue,” he said, adding that Parliament is not the only channel through which the parties involved can seek recourse.