Truth never damages a cause that is just.– Mahatma Gandhi, Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist
Before Monday, Malaysians have been told they were being ruled by a ‘backdoor’ government, that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was a traitor who backstabbed his party chairman to become prime minister, and that he had misled the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah into believing he commanded the majority.
But in his two-hour address, the King put paid to all that. Muhyiddin did not betray his chairman nor did he backstab Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He is no party traitor. He was made prime minister because Dr Mahathir insisted he didn’t want the job anymore.
The King said on Feb 24 he asked the then premier to reconsider his decision to resign, but Dr Mahathir was adamant about his decision.
“But he was firm in his decision. With a heavy heart, I had to accept his decision,” the King said. “Therefore, I had to appoint a new prime minister according to the Federal Constitution. I discharged my responsibility in a transparent and just manner.”
He said Article 43 of the Federal Constitution empowered him to appoint a Member of Parliament who in his judgement was likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
“On Feb 25 and 26, I held one-on-one meetings with the MPs to evaluate their stand. On Feb 29, I ordered all political parties with representatives in the Dewan Rakyat to nominate an MP as their candidate for prime minister.
“Upon requests from several party leaders, I also consented to the extension of time for the political parties to nominate their candidates so that they will have ample time to make their decision in a democratic manner.
“Therefore, after going through the processes and in accordance with the Federal Constitution, I found Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to have the confidence of the majority of the MPs and eligible to be appointed as the eighth prime minister.”
Dr Mahathir had been whining about being backstabbed, betrayed and unjustly booted out of office. Now the record shows that he refused to reconsider his decision to resign as prime minister even at the request of the King.
What happened after that shows that Muhyiddin was made PM after due process of the laws. He did command the majority support and he still does, as shown by the 113 MPs seated on the government side (minus Sri Aman MP Datuk Masir Kujat who said his party, Parti Sarawak Bersatu, is an opposition party).
There is no such a thing as a ‘backdoor’ government. The Perikatan Nasional government is a legal and constitutional government and Muhyiddin is as legitimate as Dr Mahathir when he was prime minister.
Monday’s Royal Address has made the opposition chief in Parliament Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim realise that Dr Mahathir should not have been seated with the opposition because Bersatu is part of the legally and legitimately constituted government.
Before the sitting, Anwar had this to say about it: “To me, it just does not make sense. If you are able to convene a meeting, have a debate. If you cannot have it for five days, you can have it for two days.
“Parliament must be effective. There must be meaningful participatory democracy, and you must allow MPs to express their views … and ensure that inadequate measures be addressed by the government.”
It looks like Monday’s sitting does make sense now, doesn’t it?
It was probably for that reason that he refused to appear at a press conference chaired by Dr Mahathir just hours after Monday’s parliament sitting. Why would he, the opposition chief, want to share the stage with Dr Mahathir a nobody? Why should the opposition leader play second fiddle to someone who doesn’t even command confidence in his own party?
You see, Muhyiddin was intent on the one-day one-agenda sitting because he wanted the Royal Address to seep in; to make sure that Malaysians in general and the opposition know the truth. Not from him, but from the one and only person who is above politics — the King who spoke of actions made in accordance with the Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
A good part of the Royal Address was about putting the country first as against feeding the lust and greed for power that could bring about another “round of turmoil”.
The King knows that turmoil, if it comes, would not be the work of Perikatan Nasional.
Monday’s Parliament sitting may just be a two-hour affair but it inflicted the deepest wound in the side of the opposition, Dr Mahathir included.