KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 5 — Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun should resign after having given alleged “wrong” advice that newly-appointed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob does not need to validate that he has majority support in the Dewan Rakyat, federal Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) said today.

PH’s presidential council today said it was shocked over the attorney general’s statement yesterday that a vote of confidence is not needed in the Dewan Rakyat, as it is contrary to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s wishes for the new prime minister to present a motion for a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat as soon as possible.

“Pakatan Harapan urges the attorney general to resign as he has not only been traitorous towards the Seri Paduka Baginda, but he has also betrayed the Federal Constitution and the parliamentary democracy system,” the PH presidential council said in a statement, referring to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as Seri Paduka Baginda.

“Pakatan Harapan upholds the Seri Paduka Baginda’s decree that a vote of confidence has to be tabled and passed to validate that the ninth prime minister has the confidence of the majority of Dewan Rakyat members in the Parliament session that starts September 13,” they said, referring to the upcoming Dewan Rakyat meeting from September 13.

The PH presidential council also said Ismail Sabri should not use the AG’s “wrong” advice if the current prime minister does not want to follow in the footsteps of the former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, whom the PH presidential council said had caused political instability when his legitimacy was often doubted and disputed.

The statement was jointly signed by the leaders of PH’s three component parties, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu, and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Muhyiddin was Malaysia’s eighth prime minister from March 1, 2020 until his resignation on August 16, 2021. Ismail Sabri was sworn in as the ninth prime minister on August 21.

Earlier in the statement, the PH presidential council noted Istana Negara’s August 18 statement, where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was recorded as having told the leaders of all political parties on August 17 that the prime minister which he appoints according to the Federal Constitution’s Article 40(2)(a) and 43(2)(a) “has to as soon as possible table a motion for a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat to validate that he commands the confidence of the majority of Dewan Rakyat members”.

The PH presidential council said that the Agong’s decree was also emphasised by the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and the need for this vote of confidence was also agreed upon by all political parties’ leaders.

The PH presidential council highlighted that the AG himself was present and was a witness, and had himself heard the Agong’s decree during the August 17 audience.

The PH presidential council then questioned the AG’s “logic” in his opinion that the Agong’s powers to appoint a prime minister can be negated by a vote of confidence motion in Parliament, when the Agong himself had decreed for the tabling of such a motion in Parliament.

The PH presidential council also pointed out that there is “precedent” in Malaysia’s Parliament for a prime minister — who is appointed mid-term by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to replace a previous prime minister — to table a vote of confidence motion in Parliament to validate that he has majority support. 

Such a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat was done in the past, on January 27, 1976, which was 12 days after then Datuk Hussein Onn was appointed as prime minister to replace the late Tun Abdul Razak, and on November 3, 2003, which was three days after then Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was appointed as prime minister to replace then Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the PH presidential council said.

The PH presidential council said it was of the view that the AG’s statement yesterday on behalf of the Malaysian government was very “rude” and allegedly against the spirit of the Federal Constitution and also allegedly against the decree of the Agong.

The PH leaders claimed that this was the second time that the AG had been “treacherous” towards the Agong and that he is not fit to hold the position of AG.

Yesterday, the AG said the appointment of a prime minister is the constitutional responsibility and absolute power of the Agong based on the Federal Constitution’s Article 40(2) and Article 43(2)(a).

The AG said Ismail Sabri’s appointment as prime minister is valid and in line with the Federal Constitution, suggesting that it would mean the Agong’s absolute power to appoint a new prime minister can be overcome by others if such an appointment still needs validation from others.

The AG yesterday concluded that there was no need to validate the appointment of the new prime minister and government that he said was formed according to the law.