‘Withdrawal of support must be backed by SDs’

PETALING JAYA: The withdrawal of support by Umno MPs for the Perikatan Nasional Federal Government must be backed by statutory declarations (SDs) to the King, say constitutional experts.

Constitutional expert Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz said that in normal times, an MP will be qualified to become the prime minister when he has the majority support of the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.

“For a leader to remain as prime minister, the requirement is that he must be able to maintain his support among the MPs.

“The main issue is how to prove that he has lost confidence (among the MPs). 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 in the PM? So far, the accepted practice is that MPs send or sign SDs,” she said in an interview.

Shamrahayu cited Article 43 of the Federal Constitution, which states that a prime minister is determined by the support of the MPs, not through political parties.

“If MPs withdraw their support or confidence, how do we prove that? By far, the legal practice is through SDs,” she added.

Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod of the International Islamic University Malaysia said that a mass resignation by Umno ministers and deputy ministers would indicate a loss of support for Muhyiddin’s leadership.

He noted that even if SDs on the withdrawal of support for Muhyiddin are sent to Istana Negara, there is still a need to verify that all MPs are no longer supporting him.

“It’s like what had happened in February last year where the King called all MPs to state their positions with regard to whom they support (as prime minister),” he added.

Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said the ball would now be in Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s court to show that he still enjoys the support of the majority of the MPs.

He noted that resignation by Umno ministers is not necessarily fatal to the Perikatan administration, but a mass withdrawal of support from Umno’s lawmakers will.“With Umno’s withdrawal, the Prime Minister will have to show proof he still enjoys the support of the majority of the MPs,” he said.

Failing to do so, he said, would require Muhyiddin to resign, paving the way for dissolution of Parliament and a general election to be called.

Dr Sivamurugan said that ultimately, it would once again boil down to the numbers game to show whether 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).

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