Malaysia transitions: All you need to know about a ‘unity government’

Supporters of Malaysia's new PM Anwar Ibrahim hold the national flag as they celebrate outside the Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PETALING JAYA – A unity government is formed by a coalition of parties that can comprise several main blocs alongside smaller parties.

In a unity government, parties from opposing sides of the political divide can form a government and govern together.

A unity government is a unique power-sharing structure that is formed when no single bloc gains a sufficient majority to form a government.

Professor Shamrahayu Ab Aziz, a constitutional expert, said a unity government is thought to be one of the main choices because it is considered capable of achieving unity among the Malaysian communities.

“For this purpose, political parties and political players play an important role to celebrate differences and strengthen unity,” she said.

She said the royal decree issued by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong appointing Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister did not specify the form of government to be constructed, although the King has suggested a unity government.

The form of government is a privilege owned by the prime minister, who will also advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the appointment of the Cabinet, she said.

However, the King’s suggestions for a unity government must be given the highest consideration, she added.

“The selection of members of the Cabinet is the right of the prime minister, who at the same time determines the type of government that will serve the country.

“Even so, the recommendations or advice of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong about the type or form of government recommended by the King need to be given the utmost attention by the prime minister and the relevant parties.

“This is because the decree of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is not merely a suggestion but an order that must be obeyed,” said Prof Shamrahayu.

In 2018, after resigning as prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad proposed the idea of leading a unity government across the political divide as a way out of the country’s political instability.

Other countries that had been under a unity government include Italy, Greece, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Israel, Zimbabwe and Kenya. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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