Confidence showdown in Parliament?

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by TMR FILE

PRIME Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s slim majority in the Dewan Rakyat is likely to be tested when the house reconvenes next Monday, after several motions on his leadership had been put forward and accepted by Parliament.

His predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s motion for a vote of no-confidence will likely be listed in the order of parliamentary business on the opening day.

However, it remains to be seen if it will be heard by the house as government bills will take precedence as stated in the standing orders.

This includes motions to remove Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and his deputy Nga Kor Ming as the new government seeks to establish control over the proceedings. Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the rest of Opposition block of lawmakers opposed the motion yesterday, saying that the government has no solid reason to replace Mohamad Ariff as he had carried out his duty accordingly.

“Since the speaker’s appointment, various reforms have been made, including the improvement to the Parliament that has been consistently done in order to revive the Parliamentary institutions.

“Improvement measures were introduced to instil a better quality and greater transparency of Parliament proceedings,” they said in the statement.

The MPs said there are six Parliament Special Select Committees established by Mohamad Ariff. Mohamad Ariff, they said, had also created Cross-Party Groups in order to further strengthen the Parliament.

“Parliament is an important institution as a medium of democracy and carries the vote of the people. It does not have to be an arbitrary field of political order for no apparent reason,” they said.

“Both have served professionally as managers and administrators of the Dewan Rakyat and there is no solid basis for removing them.”

The statement was jointly signed by Fahmi Fadzil of PKR, Datuk Hasanuddin Mohd Yunus (Parti Amanah Negara) Alice Lau Kiong Yieng (DAP), Dr Maszlee Malik (a fraction of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia), Datuk Liew Vui Keong (Parti Warisan Sabah), Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau (Upko) and Baru Bian, from Parti Sarawak Bersatu.

Meanwhile, Minister in the PM’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan’s vote of confidence for Muhyiddin also appears to be standing on higher ground.

There has been no precedence for a no-confidence motion being called in the chamber so far. The most recent attempt took place in October 2015 when PKR lawmaker Hee Loy Sian filed a motion to unseat former PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak over troubles at 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The motion was accepted and listed as the third-last item out of 28 motions, according to past media reports. Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who was Opposition leader then, had later resubmitted a new motion of no confidence in Najib’s leadership, but it was not debated in the house.

Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia at the time concluded that there was no provision in the standing orders which details the process of conducting a no-confidence vote against the PM. Dr Mahathir had accused Pandikar of sidestepping the Federal Constitution and parliamentary process.

Dr Mahathir had said Article 43(4) of the Constitution states that if the sitting PM ceases to command the confidence of the majority of members of the Dewan Rakyat, the PM would have to tender the resignation of the Cabinet — unless the Yang di-Pertuan Agong opts to dissolve Parliament.

In the odd chance that Dr Mahathir’s vote of no-confidence against Muhyiddin is given priority over those presented by government frontbenchers, leading to the PM losing confidence of the majority, the PM has two options — namely, to resign or request for the King to dissolve Parliament.

The dissolution of Parliament would then pave way for a general election. A win for Perikatan Nasional in the snap election would grant the coalition a fresh five-year mandate to rule, effectively ending niggling questions over its legitimacy.

However, the King could also decide otherwise and withhold from dissolving Parliament. In the event that this takes place, the Opposition may seek an audience to show it has the majority to form a new government.

But with the government having the upper hand in deciding the order of the day, and the Opposition still caught in a gridlock over who should be the PM, a confidence showdown in the upcoming sitting remains a distant reality.