Istana Negara Denies UK Daily's Allegation That The Change In Govt Was "A Royal Coup"

The Palace said it is "appalled by the level of inaccuracy and the misleading tone".

Cover image via Mukhriz Hazim/Malaysiakini & New Straits Times

On Sunday, 8 March, Istana Negara issued a statement in response to an editorial from The Guardian that was published on 3 March

In the editorial, the British daily had said that the appointment of Muhyiddin Yassin — amidst the fall of the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition — as Malaysia's eighth Prime Minister was "a royal coup".

The newspaper accused the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) of overturning "a democratic election result that challenged a corrupt old order", saying that "this is wrong and the world ought to call it out".

According to The Guardian, despite Malaysians voting out a kleptocratic government in 2018 led by UMNO, which had run Malaysia for 61 years, the party has now returned to power due to the Agong's act.

"Voters in 2018 threw out the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)... Unfortunately, UMNO is now on the brink of returning to office thanks to a royal coup enabled by hubris and infighting.

"UMNO is the biggest party in Mr Muhyiddin's putative coalition. There are well-grounded fears that if Mr Muhyiddin ends up in charge Mr Najib will pull the strings. This is at a time when Mr Najib is on trial for corruption charges and his aim will be to get off the hook," The Guardian wrote in its editorial.

Screenshot of the editorial published on the British newspaper earlier this month.

Image via The Guardian

Istana Negara, however, has denied this.

In the statement by the Palace, the Comptroller of the Royal Household said that he is "appalled by the level of inaccuracy and the misleading tone" of the editorial by "a renowned UK based media".

Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, the Comptroller of the Royal Household, said that "the editorial presents a distorted account of the process" by which the YDPA appointed a new Prime Minister.

"So, for the sake of clarifying these clear inaccuracies, I would like to point out the following," Ahmad Fadil said in the statement, which was published by New Straits Times on Sunday.

He stressed that the Agong acted in line with the Federal Constitution over the entire episode.

File photo of Comptroller of the Royal Family and Household Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.

Image via Miera Zulyana/Malay Mail

According to Ahmad Fadil, the Palace "went beyond its call of obligation" by meeting all 222 Members of Parliament and the leaders of the political parties before the Agong arrived at any conclusion

"His Majesty the Agong is bound by Article 43 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia to select and appoint a Prime Minister following the resignation of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet," he said.

"Hence, when the then Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad informed His Majesty on 24 February 2020 that he no longer enjoyed the confidence of a majority of the members of the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) and tendered his resignation, His Majesty was obligated by Article 40 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia to exercise his discretion in appointing the Prime Minister.

"He was also obligated by Article 43 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution to appoint as Prime Minister an MP who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House.

Obviously, His Majesty gave a great deal of his attention towards this grave matter.

"It was only after this rigorous and open process of consultation, fully in accordance with the Federal Constitution, that His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong exercised his discretion under the Federal Constitution to appoint a new Prime Minister.

"Hence, by no means can this process be regarded as a 'royal coup' as questionably asserted by The Guardian, which has employed a highly partisan slant in its editorial," Ahmad Fadil added.

He said that the Palace extends its gratitude towards the High Commission of Malaysia in London and said that he takes pride in the "excellent initiatives taken by Malaysians" who called out the editorial

"Istana Negara wishes to extend our appreciation and gratitude to Wisma Putra and the High Commission of Malaysia in London for their quick response of rebuttal to the Guardian," read the statement.

"I also take pride in the excellent initiatives taken by Malaysians of all races and political affiliations, including senior politicians and Member of Parliaments, who responded directly to the Guardian. These individual acts are an expression of public outrage at the inaccuracies and malicious intent of the article.

"We, therefore, hope that The Guardian and other reputable media outlets would take greater care in their editorials, focusing especially on facts and objectivity."

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