Malaysia power struggle set to drag on as King recuperates in hospital; PM Muhyiddin says he's yet to hear from King

Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah will not be granting an audience to anyone for a week, as he is under observation at a hospital.
Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah will not be granting an audience to anyone for a week, as he is under observation at a hospital.PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah will not be granting an audience to anyone for a week, as he is under observation at a hospital, a palace official said on Friday (Sept 25), amid as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim seeks a meeting with him to form a new government.

Mr Anwar said this week he has secured a “strong, formidable” majority from lawmakers in parliament to oust Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. But he has to convince the King that he has the numbers to form a government.

Mr Anwar was scheduled to meet the King on Tuesday but the appointment had to be cancelled, as the King was unwell and had to be taken to a hospital.

The political turmoil comes just seven months after another power struggle that led to Mr Muhyiddin getting the premiership and could delay efforts to stabilise an economy that is reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.  Mr Muhyiddin, who has a razor-thin majority in parliament, has dismissed Mr Anwar’s claims of a majority and challenged him to prove it through a constitutional process.

The King plays a largely ceremonial role in Malaysia but he can appoint a prime minister who in his view is likely to command a majority in Parliament. He can also dissolve Parliament and trigger elections on the premier's advice.

"His Majesty has been advised by his doctors to remain at (hospital) for seven days for observation. So until then, he will not have any meetings," palace comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin told Reuters.

No major political party has come out in his support but the leader of the Umno, the largest party in the ruling coalition, said there had been defections to Mr Anwar’s camp.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Muhyiddin continues to dismiss Mr Anwar's claim that he has the numbers to be the new prime minister, saying he isn't too worried because he has yet to hear the news from the King, The Star reported.

He said the Federal Constitution provides that if Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has been given strong evidence that a current premier does not have majority support from MPs, the prime minister would be summoned and told about it.

"So far, I haven't been summoned so I don't need to react hastily to such things," he said.

But even if it does come to that, Mr Muhyiddin said he can either step down or, with the King's consent, dissolve Parliament and call for election.

Mr Muhyiddin, at a campaign rally in Sabah, stressed that he was still constitutionally the Prime Minister and was acting in accordance with what is stated in the Constitution.

 
 
 

He said he also brought up the matter with Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, who confirmed that he was still Prime Minister.

Mr Muhyiddin added he wasn't power crazy and would accept the end of his term as God's plan for him.

"If it's God's will for my term to end, so be it. As a Muslim, I believe we can only plan and God will decide, and every religion also holds the same belief.

"In the meantime, I want to continue shouldering responsibilities as the Prime Minister until I cannot anymore," he said, adding he had done a lot in his seven months as Premier.

The crowd booed when Mr Muhyiddin brought up Mr Anwar's claim during his speech, leading the Bersatu president to further question it.

"He stated that but when the media asked who was behind him, he told them to wait. I am not saying he is wrong but I am still the Prime Minister," he said.