By Lim Sue Goan, Sin Chew Daily
For the past one year, PM Muhyiddin has been fortunate enough to have sailed past a whole array of political hurdles that stand his way relatively smoothly.
This time, in order to deal with the eight Umno MPs who have decided to retract their support for him, Muhyiddin has promised to face a confidence motion in Dewan Rakyat next month to prove that he has the support of majority of MPs.
Again, this is another of his time-buying antic!
There is still about a month before the parliament reconvenes on Sept 6. Many believe the ruling PN coalition will adopt multi-pronged strategies to fight for more support from opposition lawmakers in order to keep Muhyiddin firmly in power.
There have been numerous instances in which the PM has managed to come up with counter-measures to neutralize tactics to unseat him. For example, he rushed to unveil the national recovery plan just a day before His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong were to preside over the Conference of Rulers meeting on June 16, stating that the parliament could reconvene during the third phase of the NRP (around September or October) with the hope of winning the Malay Rulers' trust.
The Umno supreme council had its meeting in the evening of July 7, but on the same afternoon, Muhyiddin had appointed Umno' vice president Ismail Sabri Yaakob as deputy prime minister while promoting foreign minister Hishammuddin Hussein as a senior minister. The motive is straightforward: to win the hearts of the so-called Umno "minister cluster".
On Tuesday, the PM played another deferment trick again, saying the Dewan Rakyat can table a motion to debate the revocation of emergency ordinances when it reconvenes next month.
Muhyiddin has completely upended his own stand made on July 29, when the PMO stressed in a statement in response to the King that the government's revocation of the emergency ordinances was made in conformity to the country's laws and Constitution, and that the revocation needs not be passed in the parliament, as the cabinet had advised His Majesty on the matter.
Nevertheless, Muhyiddin now admits His Majesty has not consented to the revocation of emergency ordinances in accordance with the decision made by the cabinet on July 23.
The ruling coalition has eventually come to terms with the reality that it doesn't pay to go against the wish of the Ruler in triggering another constitutional crisis just to keep the regime in power.
The King has consented to Muhyiddin's proposal of a confidence vote in the parliament to justify the legitimacy of his administration probably out of the following considerations:
1. The Malay Rulers should refrain from intervening. When Tun Mahathir resigned on Feb 24 last year, His Majesty summoned the MPs and subsequently appointed Muhyiddin who secured the support of majority of MPs to be prime minister because of the political volatility back then. The thing is, unlike last year's political crisis, Muhyiddin has not resigned as PM this time.
2. Allowing political parties to negotiate among themselves in order to put up a government supported by majority of MPs which will then be voted in parliament to sustain its legitimacy, conforms to the principles of transparency, democracy and impartiality. If the parliament fails to decide on a PM candidate, then His Majesty will step in to install a minority government.
3. Muhyiddin can propose to the King to dissolve the parliament to pave way for a snap election, but this not a viable option at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sure enough Muhyiddin, his party Bersatu and allies are now cracking their heads to defend the PM seat. In the event Muhyiddin is toppled or he fails to secure majority support, there is a strong likelihood his party will become divided in the absence of solid grassroots, and the ripples will spread across to state governments currently helmed by the PN coalition.
Indeed PAS and MCA will not want their political rivals to have the slightest chance and will understandably pledge their full backing for Muhyiddin.
Muhyiddin may win over Warisan and Pejuang reps (eight and four seats respectively), and senior minister Azmin Ali still maintains good relationship with Mahathir.
The recent ROS' green light for Pejuang's registration has been a sign of goodwill from the authorities.
Meanwhile, both Muhyiddin and Warisan's chief Shafie Apdal were sworn comrades when they were in Umno.
Mahathir, who has always opposed to Anwar becoming PM, will likely strike a confidence and supply agreement with PN now that Umno leaders have decided to withdraw their support for the government.
As for Warisan, unseated in Sabah by PN and having formed an alliance with MUDA, is prepared to expand its influences to the peninsula, and is thus less likely to back Muhyiddin.
Muhyiddin must also watch out for the tricks by Umno president Ahmad Zahid and Najib. Perhaps they have only instructed these eight MPs to write to Dewan Rakyat Speaker and there might be more who are yet to act until the parliament reconvenes next month, for there were a total of 11 MPs at Ahmad Zahid's press conference on August 3.
105 opposition lawmakers plus the eight Umno reps can already constitute a simple majority to outlaw the PN government.
Playing tricks is nothing new to Ahmad Zahid and Najib. Prior to this, they have fooled the Umno "minister cluster" into believing there are 40 BN reps ready to support the PN government. Now that the line is drawn, they will do everything to force Muhyiddin out of office and let an Umno guy take over.
That said, the move to withdraw support for Muhyiddin has opened a crack within BN and Umno. Besides Ismail Sabri and his gang, MCA and MIC have also vowed support for the PM. The question is, how is a divided BN going to stage a strong comeback in the next election?
This coup d'état arising from within the PN administration will make every ruling member a loser, having lost their reputation as well as integrity.
As the number of new COVID-19 cases soars past the 20,000-mark, and with political turmoil gathering steam, the future of this country is simply doomed.