Speaker rejects Mahathir’s call as Malaysia’s turmoil grows
KUALA LUMPUR: The speaker of Malaysia’s House rejected interim leader Mahathir Mohamad’s call for a vote next week to choose a new premier, deepening the country’s political turmoil after the ruling alliance collapsed this week.
Mahathir said on Thursday that King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah failed to find a candidate with majority support and will leave it to the lower house to vote. If there is an impasse, Mahathir said snap elections will be called.
But House speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohamad Yusof said a vote could only follow an official decree by the king and Mahathir’s call for Parliament to meet didn’t follow proper procedure.
As such, there will be no special sitting of the lower house on Monday, Mohamad Ariff said in a statement.
His stand echoes that of the former ruling alliance, now led by Mahathir’s rival Anwar Ibrahim, and other political parties that only the king has the power to appoint the prime minister under the constitution. They also said Mahathir had jumped the gun ahead of an official announcement from the palace and the Conference of Rulers meeting.
A failed bid by Mahathir’s supporters to form a new government without Anwar and Mahathir’s shock resignation on Monday broke apart the ruling alliance less than two years after it defeated a corruption-tainted coalition that had led the country for 61 years.
Both Mahathir and Anwar are vying for the premiership, reviving their two decades-old political feud.
Mahathir has opened his political fight not only with UMNO and the parties led by Anwar but now the royalty. His power is weakening through this alienation, as this is also affecting his public support which is low,” said Bridget Welsh, honorary research associate at the University of Nottingham in Malaysia. – AP