31 BN lawmakers to remain in Muhyiddin-led government until legitimacy is determined in Malaysian parliament
KUALA LUMPUR: Thirty-one members of parliament from Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties said on Friday (Aug 6) they would support the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin until its legitimacy is proven in the parliament.
Led by United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) vice-president and Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, the MPs said it is irresponsible to withdraw their support and cause the government to collapse.
“Our stance is that, the MPs express their thanks and uphold the king’s decree that the government continues its administration and will determine its legitimacy in parliament,” said Mr Ismail Sabri.
“His Majesty also agreed that a confidence motion be put forth in parliament for MPs to decide whether to support the government or not,” he said.
Present with him at the press conference at Kuala Lumpur City Hall were about 20 BN MPs, including Malaysian Chinese Association president Wee Ka Siong Malaysian Indian Congress deputy president M Saravanan.
Mr Ismail Sabri said there were another 10 who were unable to join the press conference, including United Sabah People's Party deputy president Arthur Joseph Kurup.
The press conference came after UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed that he had gathered a sufficient number of statutory declarations (SDs) from party lawmakers who withdrew their support for Mr Muhyiddin on Tuesday. As such, Mr Muhyiddin has lost his majority, he said.
A day later, Mr Muhyiddin insisted in a televised address that he still commands a parliamentary majority. He promised to provide his legitimacy as prime minister through a motion of confidence in the September parliament meeting.
The opposition camp and Ahmad Zahid had since raised doubts over Mr Muhyiddin's majority claim and urged him and his Cabinet to resign.
Mr Ismail Sabri was earlier promoted from senior minister to deputy prime minister last month amid talks of UMNO considering to pull out of PN.
In the Friday press conference, Mr Ismail Sabri added that given King Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s wishes, the monarch would not accept any more SDs or support letters.
“So even though the UMNO president says he will send more letters to the king, I feel this is going against His Majesty’s decree,” Mr Ismail Sabri said.
He added that sending SDs which could bring down the government before the Malaysian parliament sits this September would be going against the king’s decree.
He added that the MPs’ focus was on helping the government solve current issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As responsible MPs, we feel that we are irresponsible to the people if we leave this government hurriedly, as ordered by the party,” Mr Ismail Sabri said.
“To withdraw (our support) immediately and to make the government fall, and run away from our duties entrusted by the people, this is an irresponsible act,” he added.
The deputy prime minister said they did not want to be irresponsible leaders who run away from the battlefield while people are suffering.
"So we will continue to support, based on the king's decree, (and) to stay with government until its legitimacy is decided in the parliament," he said.
Mr Saravanan, speaking at the press conference, said BN, with only 41 seats, needed to have a direction and could not withdraw from government on a whim, especially in such pressing times.
“There must be a narrative, everybody (is) blur. We withdraw, and we say no cooperation with PKR, no DAP, now no Bersatu, so where is our direction? We can’t just withdraw on a whim,” Mr Saravanan.
Bersatu, or Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, is led by Mr Muhyiddin. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Democratic Action Party (DAP) are component parties of the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
UMNO LAWMAKERS HAVE NOT BROKEN RANKS: ISMAIL SABRI
On letters issued by UMNO secretary-general Ahmad Maslan giving party MPs 48 hours to withdraw from government, Mr Ismail Sabri said the matter had to be discussed further.
“We also asked the president (Ahmad Zahid) to meet with every MP, so he can convey his viewpoints to us. He cannot simply issue orders without giving us the reason for doing so,” he added.
Mr Ismail Sabri said the MPs had not broken ranks, adding that the press conference was about parliament matters and that party issues would be discussed separately.
“I don’t want people to see that UMNO is in turmoil,” he added.
Mdm Noraini Ahmad, who is UMNO women's wing chief, resigned as higher education minister on Friday evening, according to Bernama. She is the second minister from UMNO who has resigned from the Cabinet this week.
PM MUHYIDDIN THANKS BN LAWMAKERS
Mr Muhyiddin thanked Mr Ismail Sabri and all the other BN MPs who have taken the position to let his legitimacy be decided by a motion of confidence in parliament and not through any other means.
In a statement on Friday, Mr Muhyiddin said that this is in line with the consent given to him by the king when both of them met on Wednesday.
“I hope that the stand by these BN MPs will stop the political polemics that are going on at the moment and this will give space to the government to concentrate fully on the efforts to address the COVID-19 issue, including in speeding up the vaccination process and reviving the country's economy,” said the prime minister.
Speaking to reporters in Johor Bahru, Mr Muhyiddin who is the MP for Pagoh said that he is prepared to face any possibility during the vote of confidence as he believes that he still has the majority support of MPs.
However, what he was most concerned about is whether the country is prepared to go through the political crisis as this will affect all the efforts being taken now to get Malaysia out of the COVID-19 situation, including its national recovery plan and its immunisation programme, he added.