Vote of confidence not a done deal


Reports by ZAKIAH KOYA, MUGUNTAN VANAR, RAHIMY RAHIM, TARRENCE TAN and IMRAN HILMY

KUALA LUMPUR: The vote of confidence for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that will be mooted by PAS, if allowed to by the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, will go against conventional parliamentary practice, says constitutional expert Emeritus Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi (pic).

He said as an Opposition party, PAS is not expected to prop up a sitting prime minister.

“A vote of confidence is normally introduced by a government MP or supporter when there is an uncertainty of numbers (of MPs) and the government seeks to prove its support. If there is such an uncertainty, let the PM’s allies introduce the motion.

“Conversely, a motion of no-confidence is always introduced by those wishing to bring the government down.

“In either case, the Speaker has the discretion to throw out the motion if it is frivolous.

“Note however that we are not dealing with laws but with the internal (parliamentary) Standing Orders.

“If the Speaker allows the motion, there is nothing illegal, just something unprecedented, ” he said yesterday.

Pakatan MP Sivarasa Rasiah of PKR said the vote of confidence, when mooted by PAS, goes against the norm in the Dewan Rakyat.

“As the Malaysian Parliament is modelled after the Westminster system, the convention is that the role of the ruling party or coalition is to uphold the government of the day, while the Opposition’s role is to bring down the government, not the other way round.

“However, it must be understood, in the Dewan Rakyat, government matters must take priority over any other affair, and as such, the Speaker can delay such a vote of confidence to the next session until all matters of the government have been dealt with, ” he said.

Sivarasa, who is a lawyer, pointed out how the amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) which was mooted by PAS in the last administration, was delayed for three parliamentary sessions and was never debated as government Bills took priority.

To a question on why PAS is not playing the conventional role as an Opposition party, PAS deputy president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the party decided to go ahead before consulting with fellow Opposition Umno MPs over the matter as there was too much bickering which is disrupting the government’s job of administering the country.

“We will meet Umno tomorrow night (Monday) and present the idea.

“The vote of confidence is not about interfering in the ruling coalition’s matters but we are tired of the constant bickering of dissatisfaction with the PM.

“As we do not see a vote of no confidence, we decided to take it upon ourselves to bring a vote of confidence (for the Prime Minister), ” said Tuan Ibrahim yesterday.

He was speaking to the media after launching a PAS national welfare convention in Cheras.

The Kubang Kerian MP also said that although Dr Mahathir was their “biggest enemy” for so many years during his first tenure as prime minister, the Islamist party has forgiven him and is willing to work with him when the need arises.

“There is nothing stopping us MPs from PAS to bring a private motion to support Dr Mahathir in the Dewan Rakyat.

“A private motion can be brought by any MP as long as it fulfils three conditions and is filed in advance.

“Former Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang had voiced it before to bring a vote of no confidence against then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2017, but it was never done, ” said Tuan Ibrahim.

PAS announced on Feb 8 that their MPs will table a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat for Dr Mahathir when Parliament convenes next month.

PAS also said that all of its 18 MPs will give Dr Mahathir their full support to ensure that he can complete his full term as the prime minister, without having to hand over the baton to his successor mid-term.

The tabling of the vote of confidence was decided unanimously by the PAS central leadership council during its monthly meeting.

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