PETALING JAYA: One of the spotlights of the 15th Parliament will be how Perikatan Nasional and component PAS play the opposition role.
The sitting will set the tone for future meetings in terms of the quality of debate among lawmakers, say political analysts.
“It is going to be interesting to see the opposition – made up almost entirely of Malay-Muslim MPs – trying to voice the grievances of the people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds,” International Islamic University Malaysia’s Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar said of the Perikatan bloc.
He said the mini-budget comprising the Emoluments Bill was expected to be approved as MPs will not want to be seen to be hindering the administration of the civil service.
“Although it is expected that the Prime Minister will win the vote of confidence, this can only be tested on the first day of the sitting. The impartiality of the new Speaker will also come under scrutiny,” he said.
For the first time, PAS will make up for the majority of the 74 seats held by Perikatan with 43 seats.
Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb also believed the vote of confidence will be no threat to Anwar, adding the real test would come during the Umno General Assembly.
“Anwar’s Cabinet selection is a reflection of his intention to strengthen the unity government and survive the vote of confidence,” he said.
“It’s the Umno AGM that will determine whether Umno remains with him or leaves to join Perikatan Nasional.”
Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun said it remained to be seen whether the Memorandum of Understanding between members of the coalition government would strengthen Anwar’s hand in Parliament.
On the issues that are likely to be debated in the House, Dr Oh said there may be diverse opinions on what are considered issues of national interest, with some leaning towards bread-and-butter issues while others harp on religion-centric matters.
“Anwar and Pakatan Harapan will try their best to stress on national issues. For PAS, theocratisation is the one and only national issue,” he said.
“PAS will push for legislation to further theocratise the country and society. It will be very difficult for Muslim MPs to say no, as they would then be accused of not being religious enough, which is a vote killer in this increasingly religious environment,” he added.
Not many prime ministers had gone through a confidence motion in the House except for two.
Tun Hussein Onn went through a vote of confidence during an emergency parliamentary sitting in 1976, merely days after taking over the mantle following the death of his predecessor Tun Abdul Razak.
Tun Hussein did not only take on the role of prime minister but also assumed the finance, defence, and coordination of public corporations portfolios.
The motion was proposed by then Barisan Nasional Senator, Wan Ibrahim, instead of the premier himself.
The country’s third prime minister successfully secured the confidence of the House, 46 years ago.
Meanwhile, in 2003 Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi faced a confidence motion on Nov 3, 2003, after being sworn in as prime minister on Oct 31, the same year.
The motion moved by then Shah Alam MP Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed was passed by the Dewan Rakyat.
Today, it will be Anwar’s turn.