KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Umno lawmaker Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today called out Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for trying to protect his position as head of government through declaring a state of emergency for Malaysia.
The backbencher in the Muhyiddin administration claimed to have information that Muhyiddin no longer commands even a “simple majority” in Parliament and is attempting to forestall a scenario where his support will be put to the vote when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes in nine more days.
“The Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin, in refusing to submit himself to a vote of no confidence in Parliament, has demonstrated that he no longer has any legitimacy to be the prime minister,” he said in a statement tonight.
In arguably the strongest and most unambiguous language he has ever used, the Kelantan prince called Muhyiddin an “illegitimate prime minister”.
“As such, it is wrong in principle, for the Prime Minister to now go to the YDP Agong to seek a declaration of a state of emergency, presumably to protect his own position.
“An illegitimate Prime Minister is in no moral position to seek a declaration for a state of emergency which may grant him far-reaching powers without any accountability and the checks and balances,” he said.
Tengku Razaleigh went a step further and urged the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers to disregard any request for an emergency proclamation, which he said was based on “flimsy excuses”.
“The YDP Agong and the Rulers should not entertain such an illegitimate request and based on flimsy excuses,” he added, concluding his statement.
Tengku Razaleigh’s remarks appear to lend credence to rumours circulating on Malaysia's social media that Muhyiddin no longer commands the majority in the 222- seat Dewan Rakyat.
Muhyiddin had chaired a special Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya yesterday that also included senior government officials and had later had an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at the Pahang palace in Kuantan.
The meetings involving the government’s top tier sparked a flurry of speculations that emergency would be declared ostensibly to fight the third wave of Covid-19 and the current economic downturn. The last time Malaysia had one was in 1977.
Istana Negara issued a statement late yesterday saying the Agong would consult the other Malay Rulers on suggestions from the Cabinet, without intimating what transpired.
The Star cited unnamed palace sources saying the meeting is scheduled at 2.30pm at the Istana Negara here tomorrow and that at least six of the Sultans have confirmed attendance.
The government had not issued any official statement whether to affirm or deny the emergency speculations.
However, at least two ministers have alluded to its possibility. Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa had tweeted a challenge to government detractors to come up with an alternative solution to deal with the double nightmare of Covid-19 epidemic and a depressed economy.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has also gone on the attack against the Opposition, and especially Anwar, accusing them of provoking political instability and sowing hatred against the government with what he termed their “outbursts” against the possibility of a state of emergency being declared.
However, Tengku Razaleigh is not alone among the Perikatan Nasional politicians expressing alarm and caution at what an emergency declaration might do to Malaysia’s political and economic standing internationally.
Although he did not specifically mention the rumoured emergency, Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan issued a statement today urging the government to use democratic and scientific means to battle the raging Covid-19 pandemic in the country.