The Perikatan Nasional and Barisan Nasional coalitions’ move to stage a coup instead of waiting for the next general election to form a government is “unacceptable”, said Malaysia’s former defence minister Mohamad Sabu.
Mr Mohamad, who is also known informally as Mat Sabu, said at a Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition talk in Klang last Sat (7 Mar) that Barisan Nasional in particular — based on the alliance’s history of winning by-elections — were in the position to wait for the next general election if they were confident of securing seats in the government again.
“Why couldn’t you wait? We waited for 60 years, why couldn’t you wait for five? .. If you want to win, work hard for it. If we lose we would not mind. We will work harder but staging a coup is unacceptable.
“They know PH is doing better and better and they are afraid of their court cases being heard, so they chose to use an illegal way by sabotaging a legitimate government,” said the Kota Raja Member of Parliament (MP).
Noting that Mr Muhyiddin “really wanted to form a Malay government”, Mr Mohamad also revealed that he was asked by newly appointed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to join him in his new government, but on the condition that the Democratic Action Party (DAP) must be excluded.
However, Mr Mohamad said that leaving out DAP was not possible, adding that PH will “respect the rule of law” and abide by the Federal Constitution in the pursuit of being elected into power again.
“We may have lost several by-elections, but why must we allow this government to be hijacked in the middle of everything?” he said.
“No wonder none of the European countries has yet to congratulate this backdoor government,” Mr Mohamad charged.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesia President Joko Widodo are among the few leaders who have publicly congratulated Mr Muhyiddin on his appointment as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
“I am confident Singapore’s long-standing and multi-faceted relationship with Malaysia will grow under his leadership, and benefit both the peoples,” said Mr Lee in a Facebook post.
In a letter to Mr Muhyiddin on 2 Mar, Mr Lee expressed his confidence that Singapore and Malaysia’s bilateral relationship “will continue to thrive and flourish under your leadership as Prime Minister of Malaysia”.
Finance blog FinanceTwitter observed that Mr Muhyiddin’s immediate predecessor Mahathir Mohamad, in contrast, received congratulatory messages from Western powers such as the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union countries — which “recognised his government the very next day” — after he was elected as Prime Minister on 11 May 2018.
“The legitimacy of [the] Muhyiddin government, like it or not, depends heavily on the Western countries, especially the United States, United Kingdom, [and the] European Union” and even an Asian superpower such as China, FinanceTwitter opined.
Sarawak Report, well-known for its role in critiquing the Najib Razak administration and unveiling the 1Malaysia Development Berhad graft scandal, similarly noted this “disapproval” of Mr Muhyiddin’s government, as seen in Northern Ireland MP Jim Shannon’s statement in the UK’s House of Commons on how the new administration will potentially “significantly limit the right of freedom of religion or belief in Malaysia”.
Mr Muhyiddin was sworn-in as the nation’s eighth Prime Minister at the national palace, the Istana Negara on 1 Mar after a week of political turmoil plaguing the country.
His appointment as Prime Minister received royal assent from the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on 29 Feb, which the Istana Negara 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 a Member of Parliament (MP) — who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of MPs — as the prime minister.
Former PM Mahathir Mohamad: Muhyiddin Yassin willing to work with kleptocrats, previously “promised not to cooperate with Umno”
Around two hours before Mr Muhyiddin’s swearing-in ceremony, Dr Mahathir told a press conference at the Albukhary Foundation in Kuala Lumpur that Mr Muhyiddin is not the right person to be sworn in, as Mr Muhyiddin allegedly did not command the support of the majority of the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, the lower house of the Malaysian Parliament.
Dr Mahathir also said that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has refused to grant him audience to prove his position that the Pakatan Harapan coalition and himself both command the support of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat.
Earlier on Sun (8 Mar), Dr Mahathir told reporters that he had received a letter from the new PM asking to meet him to resolve their political differences.
However, he said that he had “previously met” Mr Muhyiddin and reiterated his refusal to work with Umno.
“I had promised not to work with Umno. Muhyiddin in the video clip also promised not to cooperate with Umno.
“However, he had (decided to) accept Umno, the biggest party in his government … His party only has six individuals (MPs), Umno has 51 (MPs),” said Dr Mahathir.
The former premier said that he “cannot make peace with accused persons charged in court for stealing billions of ringgit”.
“I said Umno members (can) enter Bersatu … I accept them on the condition that they leave Umno and join (Bersatu) on their own accord,” said Dr Mahathir, adding: “But Muhyiddin said he was willing to cooperate with such individuals. That is something that I cannot accept.”
Muhyiddin Yassin’s appointment as PM receives flak from Malaysians
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”.