Malaysian King tells MPs not to gamble with country's future amid Covid-19 pandemic

Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, offering prayers during the opening ceremony of the 14th parliamentary session in Kuala Lumpur, on Sept 13, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - 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 on Monday (Sept 13), during his royal address at the opening of the country's 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 the Covid-19 virus, 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 revealed.

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.

A confidence-and-supply-agreement would mean PH's 88 MPs will not oppose Mr Ismail in votes that would test his majority, such as the crucial Budget to be tabled on Oct 29.

Both sides have since announced that they will sign a memorandum of understanding on Monday, for the sake of political stability in battling the pandemic, as well as ensuring economic recovery.

Sultan Abdullah also said that he is 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 King, however, did not say whether Mr Ismail should call for a confidence vote in Parliament in order to affirm his position as premier.

Malaysia's King delivering his royal address at the opening of the country's first Parliamentary session this year. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Palace issued a statement last month saying the King had decreed that the new prime minister must hold a vote of confidence as soon as possible.

However, de facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said last week that the King had consented for Mr Ismail not to undergo a vote of confidence.

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 reform.

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