WORLD Malaysian king to consult fellow rulers on next prime minister


Malaysian king to consult fellow rulers on next prime minister

China Daily

21:08, November 23, 2022

Malaysia's King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (center) waves after meeting with members of the media outside the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 21, 2022. [MOHD RASFAN / AFP]

Malaysia's Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah will meet his fellow rulers Thursday to help resolve the current political deadlock where no political party has enough parliamentary seats to form a federal government.

The monarch will consult members of the Conference of Rulers in order to make a decision that will benefit the people, according to a statement issued by Royal Comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin. The meeting will be held at Istana Negara (National Palace) in Kuala Lumpur.

This plan developed after Sultan Abdullah granted an audience to Malaysia's political leaders Tuesday and Wednesday, advising them to form a unity government.

The Southeast Asian nation is a constitutional monarchy, with each state ruled by a sultan. They make up the Conference of Rulers – comprised of the nine state monarchs of Malaysia. The nine state monarchs rotate five-year terms as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or paramount ruler.

Analysts noted the significance of the King's role in breaking the current impasse given that the Nov 19 elections ended in a hung parliament.

Hafidzi Razali, a senior analyst at risk consultancy BowerGroupAsia, said the King needs to "use his discretion to appoint the leader of a majority coalition" as the next Prime Minister.

"The King plays a critical role in breaking the impasse over coalition leaders vying to lead the government," said Yeah Kim Leng, professor of economics at the Kuala Lumpur's Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia at Sunway University.

With no party winning at least 112 posts needed to build the next government, Yeah said that Sultan Abdullah has to appoint a Prime Minister who "in his judgement can command the majority support of the members of the parliament (MPs)". But Yeah noted that the newly appointed Prime Minister would still need to test the support of fellow MPs through a vote of confidence after the parliament has convened.

Yeah said Malaysia's political instability, if not resolved "in a fair and transparent manner" will spook investors and hurt the country's economic outlook. The next Prime Minister also needs to muster support for his development agenda.

Sultan Abdullah summoned on Tuesday Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister and leader of Pakatan Harapan, or PH, and Muhyiddin Yassin, a former prime minister and leader of Perikatan Nasional, or PN. They are the leading candidates for Prime Minister as their respective parties won the most number of seats in the Nov 19 elections.

The two coalitions secured the most number of seats in the elections, with PH winning 82 seats and PN 73. Muhyiddin has turned down the King's proposal for PN and PH to form a unity government.

On Wednesday, the monarch granted an audience to the leaders of Barisan National, the longest-ruling political coalition and the Gabungan Parti Sarawak. BN Chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the King has advised them to be part of a unity government, according to local media reports.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi, associate professor at the Academy of Malay Studies in University of Malaya, said the King has to step in because the political parties "can't solve their problem on what kind of government they want to establish".

He said since PN refuses to be part of a unity government, then another solution is for PH, which is now the biggest political bloc, to invite other parties to join them so that they can form a coalition government.

Anwar has earlier met up with BN, proposing to form the next government. But BN decided to be neutral, with party leaders saying they are ready to be in the opposition.

Analysts said that it's difficult for all parties to form a coalition government given the bitter infighting that rocked Malaysia's political scene in the past four years.

Yeah said most of the newly elected MPs "have experienced betrayals" as evidenced by the country having three Prime Ministers in four years. This is why it's hard for Malaysia to create a unity government.

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