King decides, and then the PM, so MPs have no say, says ex-judge

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah is currently hearing out each of the 222 MPs to find out their choice for the next prime minister.

PETALING JAYA: No one can impose any condition on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to decide who commands the confidence of the majority in the Dewan Rakyat, retired judge Gopal Sri Ram said, as Umno demands Dr Mahathir Mohamad to accept its MPs en bloc in forming the next government.

He said the king could decide on who had the majority and would therefore be prime minister, and that no one could dictate to the king and the prime minister as to how the Cabinet should be constituted.

Yesterday, Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa said MPs from Barisan Nasional and its ally PAS were calling for fresh polls to elect a new government.

He said their support for Mahathir to lead a new government was on condition that DAP would be excluded from any new federal government coalition.

He said BN – represented by Umno, MCA and MIC – as well as PAS and Sabah’s PBRS would also not agree to Mahathir picking MPs individually to form a “unity government”, saying all MPs should be accepted en bloc.

Former judge Gopal Sri Ram is currently leading the prosecution team in two cases against Najib Razak related to the 1MDB scandal.

But Sri Ram said when it came to a vote in the Dewan Rakyat, every MP was entitled to vote according to his/her conscience.

“However, for practical reasons, voting has been along party lines. But in a national unity government, the question is whether MPs have the interest of their party or the nation at heart,” he said.

Sri Ram said there were some politicians facing serious criminal charges and as such it would benefit them to engineer a situation where there was a strong likelihood that the on-going prosecutions would be discontinued.

“I believe this will not happen under Mahathir because he is a rule-of-law man,” he said, adding that MPs who were not implicated in serious criminal cases should apply their minds for the interest of the nation.

Former prime minister and Pekan MP Najib Razak, his former Cabinet colleagues Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Ahmad Maslan, as well as Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin are facing charges for corruption and money laundering.

Sri Ram has been given a special licence to prosecute Najib in two cases related to 1MDB that is on-going.

Meanwhile, lawyer Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar Al-Mahdzar said any MP from the opposition could initiate a vote of no confidence against the prime minister if he/she was unhappy with the make-up of the Cabinet.

“If such a vote is successful, the Cabinet also collapses. Then the king has the option to call for a snap election or look for another MP to be prime minister,” he added.