KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said on Thursday (May 14) that the ruling government has limited next week's parliamentary sitting to a royal address most probably because it does not have confidence of commanding a majority in the House.
His comments came amid a chorus of criticism from the opposition bench, after parliament speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof announced that the Members of Parliament (MP) will not meet after the royal address.
In a Facebook Live, Mr Anwar said Pakatan Harapan's (PH) view is that it is not appropriate to adjourn the meeting immediately after the Malaysian king’s speech.
“If COVID-19 is the reason, the seating arrangement has already been taken care of … If this is already completed, for sure we can have a meeting. This is why we believe the meeting should convene,” he said.
On Wednesday, the speaker said that the change in agenda for next Monday's parliamentary sitting was the decision of the government, having taken the current COVID-19 situation into consideration.
This meant that no government businesses would be discussed in the Lower House come Monday. Motions earlier accepted by the speaker, including Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposed vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, could also not see the light of day.
The announcement did not sit well with PH politicians, who believed that the move was to delay the vote of no-confidence against Mr Muhyiddin. He had in February led Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia out of PH and joined forces with the former ruling coalition to take power.
“I believe this is largely due to the fact that the government does not have confidence that it has obtained the support of a majority of the MPs,” Mr Anwar said in his Facebook Live.
There are MPs who would jump ship when they are not given ministerial posts or posts in government-linked corporations, he claimed, urging people to choose candidates who will hold fast to their principles and ideals in the coming general elections.
MAHATHIR SAYS CHANGE IN AGENDA IS AN ATTEMPT TO BLOCK HIM FROM SPEAKING
Dr Mahathir, the former prime minister whose resignation triggered the collapse of the PH government, described the ruling government’s decision as an attempt to block him from speaking as an MP in the House.
“Now that the parliament is not allowed to convene, which means Muhyiddin actually does not have the support to be the prime minister,” he claimed in a video posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday.
Dr Mahathir insisted that Mr Muhyiddin did not command the majority of the House at the time the latter was sworn in before the king.
He said he has been waiting for the chance to speak in the House and to explain the reasons of him tabling the motion of no-confidence vote.
Meanwhile, Mr Mohamad Sabu, the president of Parti Amanah Negara and former defence minister, described the current government as a “backdoor government” and “spineless government”.
According to the Star, Mr Mohamad said the decision to not allow any debates during the one-day parliament sitting reflected “the absence of wisdom and democracy” in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.
“It also shows the Perikatan government’s anger at the no-confidence motion on Muhyiddin’s leadership,” he said.
“If parliament isn’t an open platform for us to show the effectiveness of the country’s democractic system, does that mean that the streets will be the decisive platform after this?” he asked.
Former minister Yeo Bee Yin, who is Bakri MP and with the Democratic Action Party, said an online parliament session should be held instead if the pandemic is of concern.
“If you are prime minister, whose majority is questioned but you (actually) do hold the majority, will you have your very first parliament session with no question and answer, no motion, no debate and no vote?” she wrote on her Facebook page.
BARISAN NASIONAL REITERATES SUPPORT FOR MUHYIDDIN
Meanwhile, the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has continued to pledge support for Mr Muhyiddin and his PN coalition.
In a press conference on Thursday, BN's secretary-general Annuar Musa said the 43 MPs are in favour of Mr Muhyiddin's leadership as prime minister
“Should there be a motion of no confidence in Parliament against PN (Perikatan Nasional), all Barisan MPs would en-bloc vote for Muhyiddin as Prime Minister," he stated.