Muhyiddin ignored Agong’s advice; will Mahiaddin now defy Agong’s order to reconvene Parliament?

For those who do not understand: "As soon as possible" means at the earliest opportunity

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Mahiaddin Yassin

The outcome of the Council of Rulers meeting on Wednesday, 16 June, confirmed that the rulers were aware of the tremendous unhappiness of Malaysians and have responded to their grouses.

There has been great and grave dissatisfaction with the dreadful and disastrous performance of the backdoor government and the free hand exercised to lavishly spend billions of ringgit without accountability. This issue received their attention:

“The Rulers said it was important for check and balance between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government to ensure good governance and an administration accountable to the people, especially when it comes to the country’s expenditures(my emphasis).

All those politicians who met with the Agong from Wednesday, 9 June to Tuesday, 15 June wanted Parliament to reconvene without any further delay, and they did not want the emergency to be extended beyond 1 August, just when it is scheduled to end.

Both the pleas of the people’s representatives have been heeded by the Council of Rulers. The people are happy that the rulers are with the people:

“His Majesty is very mindful of Parliament’s role as an important platform for elected representatives to meet and discuss various issues, particularly those pertaining to the spread of Covid-19.

“The Conference of Rulers unanimously believes that there is no need for the state of emergency to be extended beyond Aug. 1.”

The Agong decreed that Parliament should meet as soon as possible. He had the backing of the rulers for Parliament to convene immediately: “The Malay rulers also expressed support for the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s views that Parliament should reconvene immediately.”

The Agong, instead of putting it bluntly that Parliament should convene immediately, conveyed this intention in a very diplomatic manner by stating “as soon as possible.” But there is no doubt about the urgency for Parliament to reconvene.

If these half-baked politicians have any sense, they should have realised that the Agong had deliberately ‘given face’ to the prime minister instead of bluntly directing the PM to reconvene Parliament. That would have resulted in a loss of face for the Perikatan Nasional government.

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All those hangers-on tried to split hairs by claiming the Agong did not specifically state a definite period in time for Parliament to meet. They therefore concluded that the prime minister’s announcement, made one day before the Council of Rulers met – that Parliament could meet either in September or October – fulfilled the definition of “as soon as possible”. 

Surely, this is far-fetched! It seems to be stretching things a bit too far, almost doing violence to a term of art applied to the contemporaneous situation!It is nonsensical!

But the de facto law minister, Takiyuddin Hassan, who is himself a lawyer, ridiculously claimed “the Yang di-Pertuan Agong did not set a date on when Parliament should reconvene”.

You wonder if Takiyuddin is a knucklehead! According to him, in an interview with Harakah Daily, “The King did not specify which month the sitting should be held. He only said as soon as possible.”

We wonder whether Takiyuddin is really all that dumb or merely misleading and confusing the public.

The Agong did not mention the date because he expected common sense to prevail in their understanding of the phrase “as soon as possible”, but it looks like common sense is not that common after all!

When a legal document is forwarded, for example, with the instruction, “Sign and return as soon as possible,” it simply meant at the shortest possible time. The recipient cannot say no date had been mentioned for the return of the document and choose to sit on it. It is always understood that time is of the essence. There is always a sense of urgency when “as soon as possible” is mentioned.

For the knuckleheads who don’t understand what is meant by “as soon as possible”, let me clarify this for their information:

As soon as possible meaning at the earliest possible moment; within a short time from now; certain to happen; very soon; at the earliest/first opportunity; any day/moment, etc now; very soon; in the short run/term; during the period of time that is not very far into the future; in no time (at all); very soon, or very quickly; As soon as is possible; at one’s earliest convenience; at the earliest possible time.

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“This is time-sensitive.” – Communicates the need for speed in four simple words: “as soon as possible”.

Takiyuddin tried to rationalise by explaining that the PM had already addressed this urgent issue even before the Agong mentioned it:

“The prime minister has already said it will only reconvene in September or October,” he added after the rulers’ meeting, referring to the announcement made by Muhyiddin Yassin on 15 June, a day before the Council of Rulers met.

That was Muhyiddin’s stand – before the royal decree on Wednesday, 16 June. After the royal decree, Muhyiddin’s earlier stand no longer holds water. Here we have a fresh instruction – this is not the same as the advice given by the Agong on 24 February that Parliament could meet.

Is Mahiaddin going to defy the collective decision of the Council of Rulers by sticking to his previous decision to reconvene Parliament either in September or October?

Takiyuddin also called on MPs to heed the King’s request to focus on Covid-related issues once Parliament reconvenes: “Let us not discuss other matters at the sitting. The King wants us to focus on Covid-19.”

When Parliament meets this time on the instructions of the Agong, it will be a normal session. Proceedings will take place as they usually do, under the standing orders. Parliament is not obliged to confine itself to a single agenda.

The Opposition, earlier on, in requesting for Parliament to meet, had promised that a vote of confidence would not be moved and assured that the prime minister’s position would not be under threat. That assurance is no longer valid now. The PM did not respond to their request then and, therefore, their promise is no longer binding. The PM has no one else to blame for this turn of events except himself for not respecting the Opposition.

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Though Takiyuddin is trying to mislead the public by emphasising that the Agong wanted the Covid pandemic to be addressed as the main issue, there are other matters, touched on by the Agong, claiming equal importance:

  • “His Majesty expressed the view there needs to be a strong and stable government that can function effectively to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and revive the economy”
  • “His Majesty is very mindful of Parliament’s role as an important platform for elected representatives to meet and discuss various issues, particularly those pertaining to the spread of Covid-19”
  • “The Rulers are of the position that it is important to respect mechanisms of check-and-balance between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to ensure a transparent administration that has integrity and is accountable to the people; especially in matters of finance and government expenditure”
  • “At the state level, the Rulers are also of the position that state legislatures should convene as soon as possible”

It is abundantly clear that the Agong wants “a strong and stable government that can function effectively” – unlike the present weak and tottering government that has no majority support. The Agong recognises the need for MPs to “meet and discuss various issues”. The Agong wants to ensure a transparent administration that has integrity and is accountable to the people, especially in matters of finance and government expenditure – unlike the present situation where the government is not accountable to the people for its reckless spending. The Agong also wants the state legislatures to convene as soon as possible and be accountable.

Mischief appears to mark the season when a certain seriousness is warranted. All these twisting and lying by politicians reminds us of this quotation: “You are weak when you lie because you aren’t strong enough to face the truth.”

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