What is the legal impact of UMNO’s withdrawal of support from PM Mahiaddin?

UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said in a media statement dated 07 July 2021, that his ‘party’ has withdrawn support for PM Mahiaddin with immediate effect.

He asked Mahiaddin to step down gracefully. But we have not heard a word from the UMNO MPs at all

The legal provision that deals directly with this issue is in Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution. It says: ‘If the prime minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives …’ – then two things may happen.

First, the PM may request the King to dissolve Parliament, and call for an election. And guess what? The King can refuse the request. Article 40(2)(b) of the Constitution allows him to do it.

Second, if the King refuses the PM’s request, the PM has no choice. The Constitution demands that the PM, ‘must tender the resignation of his entire Cabinet’.

Next, before we deal with the consequences of the ‘presumed loss of the confidence of a majority’ of MPs, we need to look at the legal concept of ‘confidence’. Two phrases are crucial for that.

The first is ‘the loss of confidence’. A ‘loss of confidence’ means the MPs have withdrawn their support.

The second is more important. It is, ‘the majority of the Dewan Rakyat’ – meaning a majority of the MPs. That is a matter of numbers.

So, we come to the crucial point: What evidence is there that:

(1) any number of UMNO MPs

(2) have withdrawn their support from PM Mahiaddin and

(3) such that the PM’s support falls below a number: 112 MPs?

What documentary evidence is there of this ‘loss of confidence’ by UMNO MPs? Have each of these 38 UMNO MPs signed letters that they have withdrawn support? Has anyone seen them? Or have any – or all—of these UMNO MPs deposed statutory declarations? Or have only one or two MPs have done so—which may not affect the overall majority?

Have they sent off these documents to His Majesty the King?

Or will they change their mind according to the weather?

There is no such evidence on any of these points. Yet. Until solid evidence is available that less than 112 MPs support Mahiaddin, no legal conclusion can be arrived at — that there is ‘a loss of confidence from a majority of the MPs’.

 

So now, Ahmad Zahidi has to prove that all 38 UMNO MPs are behind him – and have already withdrawn support for Mahiaddin. Only then will his request for Mahiaddin to ‘step down’ will make any sense. If not, the impression Zahid gives is, he has fired a blank bullet.

However, the leaking ship that Mahiaddin finds himself the captain of, is still in real danger of sinking.

Watch this space!

What is the legal impact of UMNO’s announcement that it has ‘withdrawn support’ for PM Mahiaddin?

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