Constitutional expert Prof Datuk Dr Shamrahayu Ab Aziz said a unity government is thought to be one of the main choices because it is considered capable of achieving unity among the Malaysian communities.
She said that the royal decree issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appointing Anwar as prime minister did not specify the form of government to be constructed, although the King had previously suggested a unity government.
The form of government is a privilege owned by the prime minister, who will also advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the appointment of the Cabinet, she said.
However, the King’s suggestions for a unity government must be given the highest consideration, she added.
“The selection of members of the Cabinet is the right of the prime minister, who at the same time determines the type of government that will serve the country.
“Even so, the recommendations or advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong about the type or form of government recommended by the King need to be given the utmost attention by the prime minister and the relevant parties.
“This is because the decree of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is not merely a suggestion but an order that must be obeyed,” said Prof Shamrahayu.
With all due respect to the Prof, her interpretation of Malaysia’s constitution misleads. It is not for the Agong to ‘Decree’ that the Prime Minister must form a ‘Unity Government’, it is for the Agong to call the person who appears to command the most support in Parliament to form a government as that person sees fit.
This is because elections are not held for fun or as some kind of opinion testing exercise. They are an expression of the will of the people. Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy meaning that it is ruled by the people and not by the Agong. The Agong’s role, as a constitutional (bound by strict laws) and temporary monarch, is to remain above the political fray and to ensure the WILL OF THE PEOPLE is obeyed.
The Prof does acknowledge “the form of government is a privilege owned by the prime minister” but on the other hand suggests Anwar’s appointment is “a decree…. not merely a suggestion but an order that must be obeyed” – as if a Royal Decree is not something that has to be authorised by Parliament, which it does.
Indeed, were it simply up to the Sultan who happens to be Agong at the time to decide who gets to govern, and how, you could end up with a situation where the Agong could completely ignore the leader who commands the most support amongst the people’s representatives and appoint someone who commands absolutely no support whatsoever …..
Oooops! That is exactly what happened, of course, in 2020.
However, the debacle of 2020 ought to be treated as an extreme lesson in what ought not happen, rather than as some kind of precedent. The excuse then was, perhaps, the extraordinary circumstances where a coup was hatched in the same week a pandemic struck.
Amidst much loose talk of ‘Decrees’ and ‘Orders’, as if the temporary Agong was an absolute monarch, Muhyiddin who was a traitor to his own party and who held no legitimate role as an elected leader of any party, was appointed PM following the Sheraton Coup.
‘Moo’ had claimed he had a majority of ‘Statutory Declarations’ from MPs supporting his bid, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. That has been proven to have been a lie and so weak was his actual following that the Agong was then obliged to suspend Parliament for months so that this imposter would not be shown up by a confidence vote.
To be clear, under the Constitution it is the Confidence Vote that confirms the position of a new Prime Minister. There is no reference to any ‘Decree’ by the Agong nor any ‘Swearing In Ceremony’ by the Agong nor ‘Orders’ by the Agong to form this or that type of government. It is Parliament that confirms that an administration has the support of the majority of the people.
In order to maintain the Muhyiddin Government through this disastrous period of minority rule, therefore, the Agong was forced to resort to another of his limited but important roles under the Constitution. He called a State of Emergency which was used to suspend Parliament altogether!
The excuse for the State of Emergency was Covid, but few other countries extended their Covid Emergencies to a complete suspension of democratic government. Quite the opposite, most countries leaned on the authority of their Parliaments to press through emergency rules that were often hard to bear.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Moo’s’ propped up regime eventually collapsed under the weight of its democratic deficit and incompetence (but not before billions in un-tendered Covid contracts had been funnelled through without scrutiny).
Now the same fellow is running around again claiming that his alleged new bundle of SDs outweigh the declarations of party leaders that have made it clear to the people and even to the Agong where the support of MPs lies.
Anwar has told the Moo cow that he can keep his unconstitutional SDs and that he will this time see him in Parliament, which is indeed the proper place, as determined under the Constitution, for this dispute to be resolved.
Anwar is confident he has his majority, hence no need to find an ‘Emergency’ excuse to block MPs nor to rely on specious talk of ‘Decrees’ and ‘Orders’ which misrepresent the role of the Agong under the Malaysian Constitution.
It is there for all to read.