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DID the prime minister just admit on national television that he does not have majority support?
Did he try to justify his and the cabinet’s legitimacy by saying no one else has majority support so no one else can take over?
I’m sorry, but that to me, goes against the very spirit of the federal constitution. There are no ifs or buts. It’s simple.
Article 43(4) of the federal constitution states that “if the prime minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the house of representatives, then, unless at his request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves parliament, the prime minister shall tender the resignation of the cabinet”.
Read together with Article 43(2), which states “the cabinet shall be appointed as follows, that is to say: (a) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall first appoint as perdana menteri (prime minister) to preside over the cabinet a member of the house of representatives who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that house; and (b) he shall on the advice of the prime minister appoint other menteri (ministers) from among the members of either house of Parliament”.
It would appear to me that the decision then falls back to the Agong to determine who he feels, in his judgment, commands majority support.
This was the very same way the current prime minister came into power. Or has he forgotten this?
So, the decision on who has majority support or not is not for the prime minister to make and there can be no room for any further negotiations.
One may argue that numbers need to be tested in the august house.
However, if the prime minister himself knows that he does not have the requisite numbers, then he is himself failing in his duty to uphold the constitution, something that he is sworn to do. Any failure to do so is neither right nor honourable.
I am by no means a constitutional expert, but this is my reading and understanding of it.
Further, the words of the prime minister appear to be “holding the citizenry to ransom” by saying that if the government falls, all policies, especially the vaccination programme, will be affected.
This, to my mind, is not entirely true. The civil service will continue to function, or at least it should.
It is the civil servants who are actually doing the real work. It is them who are monitoring and carrying out the vaccination programme and all other policy implementations. Not the prime minister. Not the cabinet.
Much like in the corporate world, the resignation of a chief executive officer or even the board of directors does not stop a company from functioning.
So, things should function as they currently are. And the prime minister is forgetting a most important fact. That is, the king will appoint someone as prime minister, who will then form a cabinet. This is clearly stated in the constitution as well.