‘Outcome can be uncertain’

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 12 Feb 2020

House in session: The first sitting of the next Parliament session is scheduled to be held on March 9.

PETALING JAYA: PAS’ intention to table a motion of confidence in support of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership has to pass several obstacles before it can be tabled in Dewan Rakyat, and the outcome of the voting may not go as they intended it to.

PAS would first have to officially write to the Dewan Rakyat secretariat to give notice for the Speaker to decide before the proposed motion is listed in Parliament’s Order Paper.

However, there is no guarantee that the motion will be debated as government business is usually given priority.

The motion could be fast-tracked only if the government gives way to the motion over government matters in Parliament.

This happened once in 2016 when Parliament allowed PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s controversial Private Member’s Bill to be fast-tracked and debated.

The Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was listed as Item 15 in the day’s Order Papers, leaped over other items to be tabled.

The recent proposal by PAS to raise such a motion of confidence – where the opposition wants to support the current leadership – is “rather strange and unheard of”, according to political analyst and constitutional expert Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod.

“A motion of confidence is usually moved by the party in power, ” he said yesterday.

The next Parliament meeting is less than a month away in March, with the first sitting scheduled on March 9.

Article 43 of the Federal Constitution is silent on such a motion. The Federal Constitution states the Prime Minister must be able to command the confidence of the majority of the 222 members in Dewan Rakyat.

Prof Nik Ahmad said there could be two outcomes if the motion of confidence is put to the House.

When a motion is put to the House, it is usually decided through a voice vote where lawmakers present in the Dewan Rakyat verbalise their “ayes” and “nays” on the motion.

It is a norm for government backbenchers to toe the line in accordance to what has been decided by their respective party whips.

However, a bloc voting can also be called upon, which could present a dicey outcome.

A bloc voting is when MPs decide on a motion through individual balloting by those present in the House.

Such a move can happen if an MP makes a request for bloc voting and is supported by at least 15 or more lawmakers present.

According to Prof Nik Ahmad, if the the motion is accepted and passed by a voice vote, then PAS would have succeeded in its objective.

“However, if a bloc voting is held, such a move will reveal those who are not supporting Dr Mahathir. The aftermath could split Pakatan, ” he warned.

Another political analyst, Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, said if the motion is allowed, it will be the first that an opposition bloc has moved a motion to support a prime minister.

Prof Sivamurugan questioned the need for such a move as it would create more uncertainties rather than resolve the issue of the leadership power transition.

Prior to GE14, Pakatan Harapan leaders from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara agreed that PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, also the Port Dickson MP, will be the eighth prime minister, replacing Dr Mahathir, should the coalition win.

“Solid support (for the motion) will reflect that the prime minister should continue.

“Will the Pakatan Harapan presidential council revise the earlier transition plan following support for this motion?” asked Prof Sivamurugan, a political sociology professor from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said: “No comments until I receive the motion.”

Dr Mahathir, during an interview with Malaya Post TV, recently stated that his promise to hand over power to Anwar remains, but that a prime minister must command the support of the majority in Parliament.

He said MPs hold the power to decide and even he could not be prime minister if he did not have their majority support.

In 1976, the first motion of confidence in Parliament’s history was proposed by Barisan Nasional Senator Wan Ibrahim Wan Tanjong shortly as a show of support of Tun Hussein Onn’s appointment as the nation’s third prime minister.

Hussein, who was then Defence Minister, assumed the post a day after Tun Abdul Razak’s death on Jan 14,1976.

On Feb 8, PAS announced 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 would give Dr Mahathir their full support to ensure that he could 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.

On Monday, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the party’s supreme council would decide on how all 38 of its MPs should vote “when the time comes”.

PAS leaders had presented their proposal of the vote of confidence to Umno during the parties’ Muafakat Nasional meeting on Monday night.

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