Malaysian King tells lawmakers not to gamble with nation's future

Malaysia's King has told lawmakers not to jeopardise the country's future for the sake of personal agendas.

"My advice to all Members of Parliament: Never gamble with the country's future and that of Malaysians in order to achieve certain agendas," Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah said yesterday during his royal address at the opening of the first parliamentary session this year.

"Elected lawmakers should focus on battling the Covid-19 pandemic," he added.

Commenting on the political crisis which saw the collapse of the Muhyiddin Yassin government after several Umno MPs withdrew their support, Sultan Abdullah said he has seen two prime ministers resign due to political conflicts since taking over as the constitutional monarch in 2019.

He said the country is still battling Covid-19, and many people are suffering from economic hardship and have lost their incomes.

"I have received hundreds of letters from the public filled with sorrow and a thousand hopes for a change so that they can continue their lives as normal," he added.

He said he welcomed efforts to realise bipartisan cooperation between the new government and the opposition.

"This is the type of maturity that my people want to see," he said.

He then quoted a Malay proverb, saying "Biduk lalu, kiambang bertaut (When the boat passes, the seaweed comes together again)", adding that "those who win do not win everything, and those who lose do not lose everything".

Since taking office on Aug 21 with a slim majority, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has reached out to opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) to secure its support ahead of an election due by 2023, in exchange for a slew of democratic reforms.

The Prime Minister, who is an Umno vice-president, has the support of just 114 members of the 222-seat Parliament, where two seats are currently vacant.

Yesterday, the government and PH - which has 88 MPs - signed a historic bipartisan deal which covers six areas of reforms.

In his speech, the King also said he was satisfied that the 114 MPs who expressed their support for Datuk Seri Ismail as prime minister in their declaration letters had done so without coercion.

The parliamentary session will run for 17 days until Oct 12.

It is expected to focus on the issue of the country's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the tabling of the 12th Malaysia Plan, as well as parliamentary reforms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2021, with the headline 'Malaysian King tells lawmakers not to gamble with nation's future'. Subscribe