Malaysian king to interview MPs to determine PM candidate

Malaysian king to interview MPs to determine PM candidate

Istana Negara
Istana Negara, the official residence of the Malaysian king. (Photo: Vincent Tan)

KUALA LUMPUR: All members of parliament (MP), excluding Dr Mahathir Mohamad, will be personally interviewed by Malaysian King Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to ascertain who should be the country’s next prime minister.

In a press conference on Tuesday (Feb 25), palace spokesperson Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said the king will interview each of the 221 MPs in a two- to three-minute session beginning 2.30pm, following Dr Mahathir’s resignation as head of government on Monday. 

Chief Secretary of Government Mohd Zuki Ali will be the witness.

READ: What you need to know about Mahathir’s resignation and the political upheaval in Malaysia

“(The MPs) have been informed about this royal interview yesterday by palace authorities. 

“We’ve already identified the MPs for today’s interview, but I don’t have the mandate to reveal who they are,” said Mr Ahmad Fadil, who is the Comptroller of the Royal Family and Household.

Ninety MPs have been called to the palace on Tuesday, while the rest would be summoned the next day.

MPs who were spotted entering the palace as of Tuesday 2.45pm included Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik and Keningau MP Jeffrey Kitingan.

READ: Najib Razak to meet Malaysia's king after SRC trial adjournment

AN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE BY KING

The king will gauge from the interviews which leader commands the majority in the Parliament, and will announce his next steps after wrapping up the interviews, Mr Ahmad Fadi said. 

“What I’m stating here is that His Majesty will conduct everything transparently, and we will share the results with the media so as to prevent speculation,” he said.

Mr Ahmad Fadil added that this is the first time a royal audience is being used to determine the country’s premiership.

Under Article 43 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, the king shall appoint a prime minister to preside over the Cabinet, and this MP is, in the king’s judgment, likely to command the confidence of the majority of the MPs.  

READ: No legal obstacle to form new ruling coalition, but against spirit of Malaysia's constitution, says an expert

Dr Mahathir had on Monday tendered his resignation as Malaysia’s premier and quit as chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, which pulled out of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition. 

The king has accepted his resignation while appointing him as interim prime minister. All ministers in the Cabinet have been relieved of their duties. 

Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad looks on as he leaves the National Palace
Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad looks on as he leaves the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 24, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

These came amid speculation that a new coalition would be formed to oust PH as the ruling government. 

On Monday, Mr Azmin Ali led an exodus of 11 MPs from Mr Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat, following remarks by Mr Anwar that there were efforts to break up PH

These actions were seen as plots to block the succession of Mr Anwar as the next prime minister. Although there was consensus on the need for power transition within PH, the timeline has become an issue of contention within the coalition and often led to disputes. 

NO PREDETERMINED CANDIDATE LIST: PALACE

On Tuesday, when asked if the interviewees would be asked to pick from a list of prime minister candidates, Mr Ahmad Fadil answered in the negative. 

It would all depend on who is mentioned in the interviews, he said. 

Amid the political turmoil, Mr Azmin-led faction, Bersatu, Democratic Action Party and others have openly pledged their support for Dr Mahathir to continue to lead the country. 

Mr Anwar had also said that he pleaded with Dr Mahathir not to resign. 

Source: CNA/tx

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