PETALING JAYA: The withdrawal of support by Umno MPs for the present Perikatan Nasional government must be backed by statutory declarations (SDs) to the King, say constitutional experts.
Constitutional expert Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz explained that in normal times, an MP will be qualified to be prime minister when he professes the confidence of the majority of the house.
For a leader to remain as prime minister, Shamrahayu said the requirement is that he must be able to maintain his support among MPs.
"The main issue is how to prove that he has lost confidence. Usually the practice is by a vote of no confidence in the House. But that is quite impossible at the moment.
"So how do MPs show they no longer have confidence towards the PM? So far, the accepted practice is that MPs send or sign SDs," she told The Star on Tuesday (Aug 3).
Shamrahayu noted Umno's withdrawal of support for the Perikatan government, but cited Article 43 of the Constitution, which stated that a prime minister is determined by the confidence of each MP, and not political parties.
"If MPs withdraw their support or confidence, how do we prove that? By far, the legal practice is through SDs."
International Islamic University's Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said that a mass resignation by Umno ministers and deputy ministers would also be an indication of a loss of support for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's leadership.
"It will still be an issue of whether the PM has the majority or not of the MPs.
"So a test of confidence outside Parliament will have to be undertaken, and not necessarily by way of a motion of no confidence," he said when contacted.
Nik Ahmad noted that even if the signed documents purporting withdrawal of support for Muhyiddin were sent to Istana Negara, there is still a need to verify that 111 MPs are no longer supporting him.
"It is akin to what happened in February last year where the King can still call all MPs to state their position with regard to whom they support," he added.
Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said the ball would now be in Muhyiddin's court to show that he still enjoys the support of the majority.
He noted that resignation by Umno ministers was not necessarily fatal to the Perikatan administration but a mass withdrawal of support from Umno's lawmakers would be.
"With Umno's withdrawal, the prime minister will have to show he still enjoys the majority of MPs," he said
Failing to do so, he said, would require that Muhyiddin resign, paving the way for dissolution of Parliament, appointment of a caretaker administration and general elections.
Dr Sivamurugan said that ultimately it will once again boil down to the numbers game to show that the prime minister still has the support of MPs.
Barisan Nasional has 42 MPs comprising 38 from Umno, MCA (two), MIC (one) and PBRS (one).
Perikatan Nasional has 50 MPs from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (31), PAS (18) and Sabah STAR (one) and is supported by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (18), PBS (one) and four independents.
Earlier, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi dropped a bombshell after he revealed that 11 Umno MPs have signed SDs to withdraw support from the Perikatan government and these SDs have been presented to Istana Negara.