King says MPs must not touch on religious and racial sensitivities

THE King today urged MPs not to drag the country into another round of political uncertainty at a time when the people are facing hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his royal address, Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, said that it is for this reason that the government had decided to set the Parliament sitting for only one day with his speech as the only agenda.

Previously, several parliamentary motions had been submitted for the Perikatan Nasional government to prove that it had the majority support of MPs during the session.

Sultan Abdullah also urged MPs to set aside their animosity, saying difference of opinions should lead to new ideas to unite the country and not otherwise.

The King said MPs should also not touch on religious and racial sensitivities or the position of the Malay rulers.

He said that during the political crisis in late February, he had initially convinced Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad not to resign as prime minister but to no avail and eventually accepted his resignation with sadness.

“The national political crisis cannot be allowed to become drawn out without an end. After a process in line with the Federal Constitution, I found that Muhyiddin Yassin commanded the majority among members of the Dewan Rakyat and was therefore appointed as the 8th prime minister,” he said.

During the crisis, Mahathir said he resigned after Bersatu insisted on forming a new government with BN and other parties, now known as Perikatan Nasional.

Pakatan Harapan, which is still cooperating with Mahathir’s faction even though Bersatu had officially left the coalition, has indicated that they intend to challenge the PN government.

Meanwhile, the seating plan showed that the total number of government MPs stood at 114.

Former PKR No 2 Datuk Seri Azmin Ali was seated as the most senior minister beside the PM.

MPs were separated with a one-seat gap to observe social distancing requirements.

This means that Azmin is the de facto number two to the PM.

Others on the front bench were senior minister (security) and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, followed by senior minister (works) Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and Education Minister Senator Radzi Jidin.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir was in unfamiliar territory when he was seated on the block furthest from the speaker.

Sitting near him were Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and Warisan’s Liew Vui Keong.

With him on the opposition bench were four other Bersatu MPs – Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Maszlee Malik, Mukhriz Mahathir and Amiruddin Hamzah.

Parti Sarawak Bersatu’s Sri Aman MP Masir Kujat was seated on the government bench.

He later said in a statement that he remained an opposition member and should not have placed on the government bench.

Former Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian is the only independent.

Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang were among many MPs who were seated in the observers’ gallery due to the social distancing measures.