Three PMs in one parliamentary term, Malaysia makes its own history

10 Oct 2022 06:22pm
The federal government which has been changed three times will be changed yet again. - Photo: Sinar Archive
The federal government which has been changed three times will be changed yet again. - Photo: Sinar Archive
KUALA LUMPUR - In less than one parliamentary term, or hardly five years after the 14th General Election (GE14), the federal government which has been changed three times will be changed yet again following the announcement of Parliament dissolution by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The dissolution of the Parliament today is to make way for the GE15 and to return the power to the people to elect the new government and put a stop to all the voices questioning the legitimacy of the government.

"The 14th Parliament has painted a gloomy picture of the country’s political landscape. Never in history has the Prime Minister and ruling government been changed three times in one parliamentary term. This has indeed given a negative impact on the sociopolitical and economic situation,” the Prime Minister said in his special announcement streamed live on national television and his Facebook page today.

The gloomy picture in Malaysia’s political landscape began in 2018 when Barisan Nasional (BN)’s six-decade rule was shockingly ended when they lost to the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 2018 general election.

PH which consists of PKR, DAP, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) dan Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) won with a simple majority to form the new government after garnering 113 seats, while BN only secured 79 seats, followed by PAS (18), Parti Warisan Sabah (eight), Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) (one) and independents (three).

PH’s victory in 2018 was a big blow to BN, and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was then Bersatu chairman, made history when he was reappointed as Prime Minister for the second time at the age of 92 on PH’s ticket! - the coalition that was once his biggest political enemy.

However, Dr Mahathir’s appointment as the country’s seventh Prime Minister was made with an agreement that he would hand power to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after two years to enable the PKR president to be the eighth Prime Minister.

The political disputes and the pressure from within the PH relating to the transition of power and the failure to resolve it by consensus had led to several clandestine meetings among political leaders, including the speculations to realign the political scenario in the country.

But it was the "Sheraton Move” organised by a group of PH, BN and PAS leaders on Feb 23, 2020, at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Selangor which ended the PH government after governing the country for only 22 months.
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A day after the Sheraton Move, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the party's exit from PH, and more shockingly, Dr Mahathir also announced his resignation as Prime Minister and chairman of Bersatu, but he was reappointed as interim Prime Minister.

The move also saw PKR sacking its deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin, which prompted nine other PKR Members of Parliament (MPs) to quit the party and became Independent representatives.

The crisis had indeed changed Malaysia’s political landscape and administration when PH lost power, not only at the federal level but also in Johor, Kedah, Melaka and Perak.

Realising that it was critical to have someone to lead the government, especially when the country was struggling against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah called every MP to Istana Negara to seek their input on the political situation before referring to the Conference of Rulers.

On Feb 29, 2020, Al-Sultan Abdullah consented to the appointment of Muhyiddin as the eighth Prime Minister, effective March 1.

Muhyiddin’s coalition government known as Perikatan Nasional (PN) comprised of Bersatu, BN (UMNO, MCA, MIC), PAS, STAR, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), Parti Maju Sabah (SAPP), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) dan Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

Muhyiddin’s appointment, however, was unable to stabilise the country's politics and various pressures continued to be placed on the Muhyiddin-led government, especially on the legitimacy of Muhyiddin as Prime Minister and PN as the ruling government.

Over the first eight months of his administration, Muhyiddin had to fend off various attempts to topple the PN government, including Anwar's claim that he had convincing support in Parliament to form a new government, as well as the proposed motion of no confidence in the prime minister.

Apart from that, Muhyiddin’s appeal for cross-party support to address COVID-19 was rejected by the opposition, causing him to appear as having lost the majority support in Parliament.

Muhyiddin eventually decided to step down on Aug 16, 2021, after holding the office for only 17 months, and Ismail Sabri, who is the then Deputy Prime Minister, was appointed to replace him.

Ismail Sabri was sworn in as the ninth Prime Minister o Aug 21, 2021, with the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, hence giving new hope for the political crisis to be ended soon under his ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ government which was based on the principles of inclusivity, togetherness and gratitude.

Without wasting any time, Ismail Sabri took a drastic measure by signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Transformation and Political Stability between the government and PH on Sept 13, 2021.

With the MoU, the political temperature of the country was significantly reduced and the focus of all parties was redirected towards national recovery covering various aspects affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country’s political journey after the GE14 which saw Prime Ministers being appointed in one parliamentary team will certainly not be forgotten by all Malaysians and the international community.

It is also hoped to have opened the eyes of all Malaysians in assessing and choosing the right candidates to give their votes to in the GE15 so that the political turmoil of the previous term will not recur. - BERNAMA