Exit PM Pak Lah, enter Tun Abdullah

(The Malaysian Insider) – The Yang DiPertuan Agong Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin is to award Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with the Tun title after he submits his resignation as prime minister on Thursday.

It is also understood that the Abdullah’s wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah will also receive a similar title.

The prime minister’s predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Siti Hasmah Ali also received similar titles when Dr Mahathir retired in 2003.

The Tun title is the most senior federal award and is divided into the Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara (SMN) or Seri Setia Mahkota (SSM), Malaysia’s fourth and fifth highest awards respectively. There can be only 25 living people with the SMN and 35 with the SSM at any one time. (The nation’s highest award is the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) which was started in 1960.)

Abdullah announced last Saturday that he would submit his resignation letter on April 2 after his Umno party confirmed Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak as party president.

The prime minister said he would step down and make way for his deputy in a power transfer following the ruling Barisan Nasional’s disastrous results in Election 2008.

While the King has yet to formally accept Abdullah’s resignation, invitations have been sent out to all federal ministers, deputy ministers, state menteris besars and chief ministers to attend the swearing-in ceremony.

Najib has not said anything about his confirmation as the country’s sixth prime minister, saying he was awaiting the official announcement.

His selection also confirms the prophecy that the first initials of Malaysia’s first six premiers will form first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s name.

DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang today said the early invitations to Najib’s swearing in, which was confirmed by Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, raised the question whether the King’s royal prerogative to appoint the next prime minister has been overlooked or disregarded.

“What happens if the Yang di Pertuan Agong does not consent to Abdullah’s desire to resign or needs time to discharge his royal prerogative?” the Ipoh Timur MP asked in a statement today.

“In the circumstances, isn’t it presumptuous as well as contempt for the royal prerogative of the Yang di Pertuan Agong to appoint the prime minister as provided by the constitution to proceed with the swearing-in ceremony for Najib to become the new prime minister when the Yang di Pertuan Agong has not met Abdullah and given his consent for Abdullah’s resignation?”

Lim said both Abdullah and Najib should explain these extraordinary developments.