Malaysian King says he, not Parliament, will decide on next PM

Malaysia’s King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Ahmad Shah, will now interview party chiefs to ascertain if a candidate can be sworn in as prime minister.
Malaysia’s King, Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Ahmad Shah, will now interview party chiefs to ascertain if a candidate can be sworn in as prime minister.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's King affirmed on Friday (Feb 28) the decision of the Speaker not to convene Parliament on Monday to decide who has the majority to form the next government after the collapse of the governing Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition.

Instead, Malaysia's King will now interview party chiefs to ascertain if a candidate can be sworn in as prime minister.

However, royal comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin confirmed that Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Ahmad Shah was still not confident that there is an MP who has the support of the majority of his peers to form a government.

"The Palace will contact the leadership of political parties that have MPs, to give them an opportunity to present candidates as the potential prime minister," he said in a statement.

PH presidential council welcomed the King's decision but it believed that its prime minister candidate, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had garnered a large number of nominations among MPs.

"The presidential council believes Datuk Seri Anwar should be given the opportunity to have an audience with the King to prove that he has the confidence of the majority of MPs," it said in a statement. 

Interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had announced on Thursday the special Parliament sitting scheduled for next Monday to decide who has a majority for premiership.

But after an audience with the King on Friday morning, Speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof said Tun Dr Mahathir’s request to convene Parliament was improper, as it lacked a notice of motion and that he would need a royal decree to summon the legislative to decide on the formation of a new government. 

The King and Malay state rulers had gathered at Istana Negara earlier on Friday to discuss the crisis.

 
 
 

The crisis was sparked on Sunday when some leaders of the PH government tried to form a new alliance with opposition parties including Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to ensure Dr Mahathir would stay in power for the full term instead of handing the reins over to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar as previously agreed. PKR was the dominant party in the ruling coalition. 

But Dr Mahathir refused to bring the entire Umno party into his government, saying that it is a corrupt party, and resigned from the premiership on Monday. The King then appointed him interim leader while the search for a new prime minister goes on.