“Given that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has advised all Members of Parliament to fully support Budget 2021 in His Royal Highness’ capacity as the Head of State, an advise I fully respect and comprehend, we may effectively be facing a constitutional crisis insofar as the democratic and constitutional functions of all Members of Parliament is in question”
Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
Malaysia may effectively be facing a Constitutional crisis following a decree issued by Istana Negara on behalf of His Royal Highness the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
In a statement issued by Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah advised members of Parliament to fully support Budget 2021 for the sake of harmony and the rakyat’s livelihood as well as for economic recovery, all of which have suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ahmad Fadil said Al-Sultan Abdullah also called upon all MPs to respect the decree issued asking for all forms of political dispute to cease, and to instead focus on the rakyat’s welfare and the nation’s harmony so the 2021 Budget can be passed without disruption.
In light of this, let me be the first to state, in no uncertain terms, that I hold any decree by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with utmost respect and with due reverence, just as I do His Royal Highness the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong himself, as the Head of State and a people’s ruler.
That having been said, although the decree was worded as advise by His Royal Highness, it has effectively exerted pressure upon Members of Parliament to possibly forego their constitutional rights as members of the Dewan Rakyat to oppose a Supply Bill (Federal Budget Proposal) in accordance with tenets of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
According to Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, if the Prime Minister ceases to command majority support in the Dewan Rakyat, then, unless at the Prime Minister’s request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet must resign.
This is a democratic and constitutional process, and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has repeatedly failed to prove that he commands majority support since wresting control of government by denying, through the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, multiple requests for a motion of no confidence against him to be tabled or given priority during a parliamentary sitting.
This effectively has put into question his support base and legitimacy as Prime Minister, a fact that is beyond dispute, voiced even by Gua Musang Member of Parliament, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Under the circumstances, and given that the Federal Constitution of Malaysia does provide that the vote on a Supply Bill (Federal Budget Proposal) is effectively a measure of confidence on the Prime Minister and his administration of government, that vote automatically becomes a recourse for Members of Parliament to gauge Muhyiddin’s support base on the principle that a Prime Minister who ceases to command majority support in the Dewan Rakyat may not be capacitated to table a Budget that serves the expectations and needs of all 222 Parliamentary Constituencies.
It follows, a vote against a Supply Bill may well be in the best interest of the rakyat, and it is for this reason, above all, that Members of Parliament are constitutionally required to vote for the Bill without any form of influence as opposed to approving it automatically.
But given that the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has advised all Members of Parliament to fully support Budget 2021 in His Royal Highness’ capacity as the Head of State, an advise I fully respect and comprehend, we may effectively be facing a constitutional crisis insofar as the democratic and constitutional functions of all Members of Parliament is in question.