PETALING JAYA: An MP from the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government can be appointed prime minister to replace Muhyiddin Yassin, provided his successor wins a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat, a lawyer said.
Bastian Pius Vendargon said Muhyiddin could convene a session as soon as possible to allow the 220 MPs to vote to determine whether that candidate enjoyed majority support.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong can appoint the candidate as prime minister if the confidence motion succeeds. However, Article 43 (4) of the Federal Constitution kicks in if the candidate fails to get the support of at least 111 MPs,” he told FMT.
As required under that Article, he said Muhyiddin has to tender his resignation if the King declines his advice to dissolve the Dewan Rakyat for fresh polls.
Another way, he said, was for Muhyiddin to tender his resignation to the King and propose a candidate as his successor.
He said the king would still be guided by Article 43 (2) (a) in that he can appoint an MP, who in his judgment, is likely to command the confidence of the elected representatives
The new prime minister could then go to Parliament to test his confidence among the MPs.
Vendargon said this in response to comments by a political analyst, Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Iskandar Hasan Tan Abdullah, on how the PN government can still retain its grip on Putrajaya.
Iskandar had said that PN can regain the support of Umno and its president, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, if Muhyiddin is replaced.
The analyst said this move could help resolve the political crisis in the country.
“What we are seeing is Umno’s attempt to withdraw support for Muhyiddin. The withdrawal of support for the PN government is only because Muhyiddin has not stepped down as prime minister.
“If PN understands this strategy, then the most appropriate step is to appoint another MP from the PN government as prime minister — one who can gain the support of Umno as well,” the UiTM Kelantan branch lecturer had said.
Vendargon said the opposition may have the numbers to defeat a no-confidence vote or confidence motion promoted by PN, but he doubted they could cobble up at least 111 MPs to propose their PM candidate.
Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said the prime minister’s deputy from Umno had succeeded him automatically until 2009 as the party was then a dominant force in the Barisan Nasional coalition.
“Nearly half of MPs came from Umno and the BN enjoyed two-thirds support in the Dewan Rakyat,” he said. However, this was not the case after the 2018 general election.
Rafique said the King could rely on “extraneous methods”, a legal principle established in the Perak case, to appoint a prime minister in these extraordinary circumstances.
The Federal Court in 2010 ruled that the Sultan of Perak was right to take such a step to sack Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar and appoint Barisan Nasional’s Zambry Abdul Kadir as the new menteri besar.
This decision was made after the Ruler had interviewed all 59 assemblymen and received statutory declarations (SDs) to conclude that Nizar no longer enjoyed the support of the majority to remain as menteri besar.
The court had also observed that Nizar had urged the state assembly to be dissolved as he had admitted to the Ruler that he had lost the confidence of the majority.
Rafique said there was evidence to suggest that Muhyiddin had lost the majority as a group of MPs from Umno had declared that they had withdrawn support for the prime minister and two ministers from that party had also resigned.
“The King could also take into account police reports made on allegations of vote buying of opposition MPs and that others were apparently threatened with prosecution if they refused to defect,” he said.