Agong consented to dropping confidence vote on Ismail Sabri, says law minister

(MMO) – The Yang di-Pertuan Agong gave his consent for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to forego a confidence vote in Parliament, de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said today.

Prior to appointing Ismail Sabri, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had advised Malaysia’s next prime minister to legitimise his position via a confidence vote in Parliament.

Last weekend, Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun said such a vote was not necessary.

“We have received His Majesty’s consent so that it (the confidence vote) doesn’t have to be held,” Wan Junaidi told a press conference in Putrajaya this afternoon.

“Because the (PM’s) appointment is still fresh. Plus, my personal opinion is the constitution accords supreme power to the Agong to appoint a prime minister based on his belief that the person commands the majority,” he added.

Ismail Sabri was appointed as the country’s ninth prime minister on the back of support from 114 MPs, the Istana Negara said after announcing the appointment.

Wan Junaidi suggested it was unlikely the MPs would have reversed their support “in such a short span”.

“This is no longer just a case of belief or assumption anymore, every single one of the 114 MPs had met (to express their support for Ismail Sabri) with His Majesty,” the minister said.

“So, I don’t think these MPs would change their minds in such a short span to reverse their support, unless it’s seven or eight months more, then just maybe the MPs might change their minds,” he added.

“Hence, based on that, the Agong has consented to not holding a confidence vote.”

Istana Negara has yet to make a public statement on the matter.

Prior to Ismail Sabri’s appointment, Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Indera Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said that the Agong believed the confidence vote must be undertaken as it is the constitutional process for a prime minister to gain legitimacy.

Today, Wan Junaidi said the royal consent to call off the confidence vote was conveyed to the Cabinet by Ismail Sabri.

“We were told during the first (new) Cabinet meeting,” he said.

Idrus had said on Saturday that Ismail Sabri need not call for a confidence vote notwithstanding the Agong’s previous remarks.

Idrus said the appointment of Ismail Sabri on August 21 was valid and in line with Articles 40(2)(a) and 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, as the Agong had already received statutory declarations from the 114 MPs backing the prime minister, and later held an audience with them.

Opposition leaders immediately criticised the AG and called for Idrus to resign.