Malaysia's King calls on MPs to support upcoming Budget

Lawmakers asked again to stop squabbling and focus on public welfare amid pandemic

Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (left) and the country's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, at their meeting at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The Premier briefed the King on the crucial supply Bill that will be tabled in Pa
Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (left) and the country's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, at their meeting at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 28, 2020.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (left) and the country's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, at their meeting at the National Palace in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The Premier briefed the King on the crucial supply Bill that will be tabled in Pa
Malaysia's politicians have been told by Sultan Abdullah to stop undermining the stability of the government. PHOTO: REUTERS

Malaysia's King yesterday repeated his call for MPs to "give fulsome support" for the upcoming Budget that is set to be tabled in Parliament on Nov 6.

The palace said this in a statement after the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, met Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin in the morning to receive a briefing on the crucial supply Bill.

"Sultan Abdullah calls on MPs to respect His Majesty's advice to cease all political quarrels and instead prioritise the public welfare and national prosperity to ensure Budget 2021 is passed without disturbance," said Royal Comptroller Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.

The King had on Sunday rejected Tan Sri Muhyiddin's controversial request for emergency powers, an embarrassing setback for the Premier who governs with a slim majority that is being threatened by rival parties.

Despite turning down Mr Muhyiddin's proposal, Sultan Abdullah had directed politicians to cease undermining the stability of the government amid a resurgent coronavirus pandemic, which the ruler said was being well handled by the Muhyiddin administration.

"Sultan Abdullah also expresses full confidence in the ability of Tan Sri Muhyiddin to lead the country during this time when the nation is being tested with various crises," Datuk Fadil added.

The royal decree comes just two days after Umno, Mr Muhyiddin's largest ally, held a series of marathon meetings to decide whether to continue supporting his Perikatan Nasional (PN) pact.

Umno had previously threatened to exit PN and dismantle the Muhyiddin government's wafer-thin majority, due to unhappiness over having to cede control of Sabah last month to the Premier's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. Also, Bersatu has the lion's share of federal ministerial posts despite having fewer lawmakers.

PN has just 113 out of 222 members of the Lower House, with Umno supplying 39 of them.

Meanwhile, leaders of the main opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH) are meeting today to decide its strategy for the Budget session, with those aligned to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim still intent on testing Mr Muhyiddin's support in Parliament.


Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (right) talking with Malaysia's King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah after their meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 28, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

Subang MP Wong Chen said that the opposition should extract concessions for its approval of the Budget.

"The Budget vote then becomes the one and only silver bullet the opposition has to test the legitimacy of the government. Therefore, we can't simply surrender this silver bullet to the Prime Minister for free," Mr Wong, who is from Datuk Seri Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), said in a Facebook post yesterday.

"Instead, we must consider using this... to obtain some much needed reforms to save democracy," he added.

"On the very top of my list... is to give an unfettered right to the opposition to table a vote of no-confidence motion in Parliament."

Parliament Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said yesterday that despite receiving more than 16 motions of no confidence against Mr Muhyiddin, as well as confidence motions from ruling pact lawmakers, these would not be prioritised over government business.

"There are many more important motions we have received apart from focusing on the upcoming tabling of Budget 2021. We will arrange them according to government business foremostly," he was quoted as saying by Utusan Malaysia.

By convention, the failure to pass a supply Bill to fund the government is akin to a no-confidence motion that would result in the collapse of the Muhyiddin administration.

Mr Muhyiddin would then have to resign, a move that could trigger snap polls as no other MP appears to be able to command a parliamentary majority.

PKR president Anwar has repeatedly claimed in the past month that he has a "strong, convincing, formidable majority" to form a new government but has failed to prove this assertion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2020, with the headline 'Malaysia's King calls on MPs to support upcoming Budget'. Print Edition | Subscribe