There are only two legitimate ways that the unity government can be toppled

If the unity government loses either the support of Umno or GPS, it can still reign, but the opposition needs to get both the support of Umno and GPS to change the government.

Nehru Sathiamoorthy

There are only two ways for the unity government to be legitimately toppled. The first is via parliament and the second is via the king.

To topple the prime minister via the parliament, what is required is a no confidence motion to be raised and a minimum of 112 MPs to vote in support of the no confidence motion.

The second method is a more secretive method that only requires the King to believe that the Prime Minister has lost the confidence of the house. For this to occur, someone, usually the leader of the opposition, needs to approach the King with a Statutory Declaration (SD) of at least 112 MPs, that indicates that the majority of the MPs in the house prefer the leader of the opposition to lead the government. If the King believes in the proposal put before him, His Majesty may ask the Prime Minister to step down.

Although the second method is not explicitly stated in the constitution as a legitimate way to topple the government, we have legitimised it via practice. In the past, the state government as well as the federal government have been changed via the SD to King method. Therefore, at present, for all intent and purpose, we can consider the second method as a legitimate way to topple the government.

Of the two methods, if the opposition seeks to topple the government, it is more likely that they would pursue option two 2 rather than option 1.

This is because option 1 has a lot of obstacles that need to be overcome in order to be executed. For one, to table the motion of no confidence in the dewan itself is going to be difficult, considering that to table it, you need the consent of the Speaker, who is likely in favour of the government. While the Speaker does not have the power to dismiss a motion of no confidence to be tabled, he can delay it from being tabled. If the opposition raises a no confidence motion and the speaker delays the motion from being tabled, say for a month, the government will get wind that something is going on, and use the one-month delay to frustrate the plans of the opposition to change the government.

The anti-hopping bill is also another problem that besets the opposition in its effort to overturn the government. Not many people know this, but at the onset of the 2022 general elections, it was actually Muhyiddin that had the majority of MPs on his side and thus had the right to become the prime minister. The King and the King’s council however, in accordance with the anti-hopping law, decided to not count the SD’s of 10 umno MPs that showed support to Muhyiddin. It is because the King chose not to count the SD’s of the Umno MPs’ support for Muhyiddin, that Anwar later emerged as the winner.

Although the anti-hopping bill, in my view, is rendered moot by the move by 5 opposition MPs to support the government while remaining with the opposition, this is just my view. In reality, the anti-hopping law can still be enforced because the effective interpretation of the anti-hopping bill is in the hands of the government. Although, logically, if opposition MPs can support the government without infringing the anti-hopping bill, government MPs should also be able to support the opposition without triggering the anti-hopping law. If the government decides to activate the anti-hopping law to prevent government MPs from switching support to the opposition, it would be acting in a hypocritical manner. Despite this being the logical argument,  personally, I believe that if the choice is between being hypocritical or being in power,  our politicians would have no qualms resorting to hypocrisy.

In terms of practicality, the opposition is also encumbered by the fact that it requires at least two factions to simultaneously support its bid to change the government, while the unity government can afford to lose one faction and still remain in power. If the unity government loses either the support of Umno or GPS, it can still reign, but the opposition needs to get both the support of Umno and GPS to change the government.

Although Zahid Hamidi is extremely unpopular and seen in an almost traitorous light by the Umno and Malay grassroot , he is still the President of Umno by law. Before the Umno MPs can throw their support behind Muhyiddin, they will first have to rebel against their President, who has clearly shown that to place Anwar in power and keep him there, is the hill that he wishes to die on.

To GPS, Anwar is the gift that keeps on giving. Like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy combined, for the past one year, Anwar has been giving gift after gift to GPS. Although Abang Jo and GPS initially threw their support behind Muhyiddin in the aftermath of GE15, considering the largesse that they have received and will continue to receive from the unity government, it is unlikely that they will be persuaded to change their allegiance to the opposition.

Considering all this, it is likely the second method that the opposition will attempt to use to topple the unity government. To execute this method, all the opposition needs is the support of MPs, expressed through SDs, and the favour of the king.

According to news, there is already a “Langkah Dubai” set in motion, where the opposition, in cooperation with the Mahathir-Daim inner circle, have set aside RM 750million to buy MPs to their side. If the Dubai Move succeeds and the opposition is able to procure the support of at least 112 MPs, all it needs is a king that will look upon the SD that is presented to him in a favourable light.

Now there are many reasons why it might be difficult for the opposition to procure the support of MPs even if it has a RM 750 million war chest. For one, according to Malaysia-Today’s Raja Petra, Anwar also has a war chest of RM 600 million to counter the opposition. Although Anwar’s war chest is smaller, Anwar has the advantage of heading the government of the day. MPs who dip into the coffers of the Mahathir-Daim inner circle might find themselves in trouble with the law. Anwar’s offer might be smaller, but at least it won’t trouble their sleep with a possible jail time.

Also, the next king of Malaysia, the Sultan of Johor, who takes office at the end of January, likely favours Anwar’s rule. I will go on a limb to say that when the King’s council was deliberating on who to install as the next Prime Minister of Malaysia in the aftermath of GE15, it might have been the Sultan of Johor that tipped the scale in favour of Anwar. His Majesty also has often favoured the reign of Anwar. It is also an open secret that the Royals of Johor are not in favour of Mahathir. Considering all this, I will again go on a limb to say that the opposition will not be able to sway the favour of the King with just the SD of 112 MPs. They will probably need to furnish the king with 120 or 130 SDs to get the King to consent to their rule.

All in all, as it stands today, I feel that the balance of probability favours the unity government to continue its reign.