PROVING MAJORITY SUPPORT
Anwar’s decision not to draw a prime minister’s salary is in sync with his desire to trim the Cabinet. In March 2020, his Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition criticised former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s oversized 70-member Cabinet.
Now that PH cannot form the government without support from its opponents, Anwar must not dish out Cabinet positions to them in exchange for loyalty. He has pledged not to succumb to that practice, but several coalitions have indicated an interest in filling up one of the deputy prime minister’s positions.
Given this, Anwar may have to settle for an unprecedented two deputy prime ministers. In addition, Anwar must discontinue the practice of appointing Members of Parliament (MPs) to head government-linked companies.
Anwar is right in accepting a vote of confidence challenge when parliament sits on Dec 19. This is after his rival, Muhyiddin, claimed that he had majority support from MPs to form the government, even before the king appointed Anwar.
In his presentation to the palace, Muhyiddin attested to having 115 statutory declarations supporting his candidacy as prime minister. Anwar has said that the confidence motion will be the first item on parliament’s agenda. This is a noble thing to do, as the people can then openly witness their MPs’ support for the new prime minister.
After all, the country practices a system of constitutional, not absolute, monarchy. By contrast, when Muhyiddin was prime minister between March 2020 and August 2021, he repeatedly deflected calls for a confidence vote against him, raising doubts about his claims of a parliamentary majority.