Malaysia’s 4-year political turmoil could have been avoided if politicians set aside differences: King
In his final parliamentary address, the ruler said he never intended to interfere in the country’s political affairs but was forced to intervene.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian king told lawmakers on Monday (Feb 13) that the political turmoil faced by the country over the last four years could have been avoided if politicians were willing to set aside their differences and unite for the sake of the country.
Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah added that he never intended to interfere in political affairs but was forced to intervene for the sake of stability.
Speaking in his final parliamentary address before his five-year term ends under Malaysia’s rotational monarchy system, the king noted that he has been recorded in the country’s history to be the only ruler to have reigned over “four different prime ministers and four different Cabinets”.
“On Jan 31, 2019, I took a solemn oath and pledged to faithfully and justly govern Malaysia according to the laws and the Federal Constitution. I am only fulfilling the entrusted duty and promise, and I had no intention to interfere in the country's political affairs or manipulate the political landscape,” said the king.
“In my observation, if the incidents that led to the resignation of the 7th prime minister did not occur, the prolonged political turmoil that lasted for nearly four years leading up to the 15th General Election (GE15) could have been avoided,” he said.
“More importantly, if the honourable members and politicians of the country are willing to set aside their differences and unite solely for the sake of safeguarding the interests of my people and this beloved nation, the political turmoil that has plagued the country for almost four years could have been avoided,” he added.
The king was referring to the resignation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2020 following the political manoeuvre known as the Sheraton Move, which led to the fall of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
This led to the appointment of Mr Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister, as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and Barisan Nasional (BN) joined hands to form a new ruling coalition. At that time, the palace declared that the parliamentarian who likely commanded the majority of support was Mr Muhyiddin.
However, Mr Muhyiddin’s tenure only lasted until August 2021 when some MPs from BN’s main component party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) pulled their support for him and put forth party vice-president Mr Ismail Sabri Yaakob to replace Mr Muhyiddin as prime minister.
Following GE15, which produced a hung parliament, the king appointed PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister. Mr Anwar is leading a unity government that comprises PH, BN, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as well as Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).
“I hope that this 10th prime minister will be the last for me, before I return to my homeland, Pahang Darul Makmur,” the king said. His term ends on Jan 30, 2024.
Looking ahead, he stressed that it was important for politicians to embrace diversity as a “key strength of the nation”.
“If diversity, plurality, and political confusion continue to be the cause of conflict and division, I am afraid that the peaceful and prosperous environment that we desire will never be realised forever,” said the king.
The king’s address marks the opening of the second term of parliament following GE15.
Mr Anwar, who is also the finance minister, is scheduled to table the national budget on Feb 24.