PH ramps up psy-war, claiming ‘numbers’ to present to Agong

PKR MPs arrive at Istana Negara in an open-top bus before their audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to state their choice of prime minister, last February.

PETALING JAYA: The smallest remaining party in Pakatan Harapan (PH) has launched a “psy-war” as the former ruling coalition steps up its campaign to return to power, FMT has learnt from sources familiar with talks to topple the three-month-old Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

Several social media posts by individuals close to Amanah have even claimed that PH, the three-party coalition which was booted out of federal power following the exit of PPBM in February, now has the majority of the 222 MPs on its side.

One post even went as far as to claim that PH was waiting for an audience with the palace to convince the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that it has the necessary numbers through statutory declarations (SDs) signed by MPs.

A legal expert familiar with the palace’s role has rubbished the claim.

He said the situation was different during the February political crisis, when the PH government collapsed after Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped down from power.

“The Agong almost certainly will not entertain another set of SDs from a coalition claiming to have majority support. There is no such obligation placed on him under Article 43(4),” he said, adding that Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah’s speech in the Dewan Rakyat on May 18 had made this clear.

“To do so would lead to political chaos and instability, as parties may turn up at the palace every two months claiming to have the majority,” he added.

‘Normal psy-war’

A source close to PH circles indicated that the claims of a change in Putrajaya were “normal”, saying they were also “characteristic of past campaigns”.

“It’s taking a leaf out of the psy-war in 2008 by a certain leader claiming to have the numbers to bring down the Barisan Nasional government at that time,” said a PKR insider, believed to be referring to the Sept 16, 2008 bid by Anwar Ibrahim to take over the federal government, five months after the historic gains for his then-Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

Rumours and speculation of an audience at Istana Negara have been making the rounds among PH supporters since late last night.

This includes one claiming that Parliament could be dissolved tomorrow to pave the way for a general election, while another claim made suggestions about the health of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin has been under a two-week quarantine since last week after attending a post-Cabinet meeting where one of the participants was later confirmed to be infected with Covid-19.

This morning, Amanah’s communication chief Khalid Samad, among the more vocal PH leaders since its collapse three months ago, vowed to work towards restoring the coalition’s election mandate.

“It is a question of fulfilling the people’s trust,” the former federal territories minister told a press conference at his parliamentary office in Shah Alam.

FMT is unable to confirm if there has been any request for an audience with the Agong tomorrow.

Just two weeks ago, though, Sultan Abdullah defended the decision to limit the Dewan Rakyat sitting to one day, with only his royal address on the agenda.

“I advise you not to drag the country into a political abyss of uncertainty at a time when the people continue facing many problems as well as a difficult future brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he told MPs in the Dewan Rakyat on May 18.

Sultan Abdullah also said he had given ample time to MPs from both sides of the divide to propose their prime ministerial candidate.

“After undergoing all the processes in line with the Federal Constitution, I found that Muhyiddin had the majority of support,” he said.

However, there have been conflicting claims on the number of MPs backing the PN government.

The Dewan Rakyat seating arrangement on May 18 showed 114 MPs on the government’s side, 107 on the opposition’s, and one independent MP.

FMT had then quoted a Parliament official as saying that a new seating arrangement would be drawn up in July following complaints.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.