All eyes were on the palace yet again on August 19, as Malaysia’s King was set to meet with 114 members of Parliament (MP) who signed statutory declarations to support former deputy premier and Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob as the country’s next prime minister to verify their stand.
Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah was due to meet the MPs in five groups from 10am to 5pm, according to a schedule seen by the Straits Times.
The audiences with the palace come a day after August 18’s deadline for MPs to state who they choose to lead the country.
The 114 votes obtained by Ismail means that his rival, Anwar Ibrahim, who leads the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition and is Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president, has failed to obtain enough support to become the next prime minister.
The King decreed on August 18 that the MP chosen to succeed caretaker Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin would still need to pass a confidence vote in Parliament to affirm his legitimacy, while the Conference of Rulers is also expected to hold a special meeting on August 20 to discuss the matter.
In February last year, Sultan Abdullah picked Muhyiddin, after a week-long political impasse following former premier Mahathir Mohamad’s shock resignation.
The decision was disputed by Dr Mahathir who had himself tried to form a unity government after refusing to go along with plans by Bersatu to leave PH and work with Umno.
The Muhyiddin government was plagued by accusations that it was a “backdoor government”.
Following the loss of his majority with the withdrawal of 15 Umno MPs from Perikatan Nasional earlier this month, Muhyiddin promised to push for a motion of confidence in the next Parliamentary session and offered a raft of reforms to the opposition last week in a bid to secure enough votes.
But Muhyiddin was forced to resign on August 16 after the opposition rejected his reform deal to gain bipartisan support.
THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK