Tues 7 Sept anti-climax if Speaker bound by precedent, procedure, on Motions.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin may not face confidence, no confidence motions.
The media has reported that the Istana asked Speaker Azhar Harun for a list of the MPs still supporting Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. It may probably provide input for the pre-Cabinet meeting every Wed at the Istana.
So far, according to media reports, only Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has written to the Speaker on his seating in Parliament. He asked to be seated on the Opposition side. He has so far been seated on the gov’t side.
The Speaker’s hands are tied on seating arrangements in Parliament if lawmakers claim that they support the gov’t but not the Prime Minister.
It’s not clear what the Agong can do with the list if Parliament turns out to be an “anti climax” on Tues 7 Sept on perhaps two motions i.e. confidence and probably no confidence as well brought over from Mon 2 Aug when the last day of Parliament was aborted.
If the anti-climax scenario pans out, and push comes to shove, Opposition lawmakers would be faced with the prospects of taking a grim stand on gov’t Bills to demonstrate no confidence in the Prime Minister.
Hansard . . .
The Speaker may feel bound by the precedent established in early May last year by his predecessor Mohd Ariff Yusof. The then Speaker rejected a motion by Semporna MP Shafie Apdal to table a motion of confidence in Langkawi MP Mahathir Mohamad.
Mohd Ariff cited Article 43 (2) (a) of the Federal Constitution. It gives the Agong the power to appoint a Prime Minister.
The Speaker’s ruling has become public record in the Hansard.
One horse race . . .
In hindsight, it can be conceded, that it may be indulging in wishful thinking and living on hope if the confidence motion proposed by Perikatan Nasional (PN) + for Sept 7 can be tweaked a little to make it more than a one horse race.
In fact, Article 63 — Privileges of Parliament — holds, among others in five clauses, that “the validity of any proceedings in either House of Parliament or any committee thereof shall not be questioned in any court”.
Alternative majority . . .
Again, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim may “re-table” a motion of no confidence.
The Speaker, by parliamentary convention in the Commonwealth, would prioratise a motion of no confidence tabled by the Opposition Leader provided, it’s now being argued in the legal fraternity, that an “alternative majority” exists as per “new parliamentary procedures”, emulating Parliaments elsewhere.
According to https://newslab.malaysiakini.com/battle-for-putrajaya/en, the latest update on Mon 9 Aug shows that the Opposition does not form one solid united block in Parliament.
At 89 seats under Pakatan Harapan (PH) and a motley crowd of 31 seats separately, and not seeing eye to eye, they are out-numbered by the gov’t block which has 100 lawmakers through nine parties and coalitions and four Independents.
It’s not known whether the malaysiakini chart follows the seating arrangements in Parliament.
Power of Incumbency . . .
Resuming the take on gov’t Bills, there’s no reason why the Prime Minister cannot get them through Parliament, given the power of incumbency.
In fact, as argued previously, Muhyiddin can even strengthen his gov’t by including representatives of Opposition parties in the Federal Cabinet.
As the situation now stands, nine Opposition parties/Independents have seats in Parliament viz. DAP, PKR, Amanah and an Independent under PH, Umno, Warisan, Pejuang, Parti S’wak Bersatu (PSB), Upko and an Independent linked to the unregistered MUDA Party.
If Muhyiddin strengthens his gov’t, the Agong would have no reason to withdraw executive authority from the Prime Minister, under Article 39, and exercise it directly or through a Council headed by a Chairman or Director of Operations as in 1969 after the May 13 civil disturbances.
The Agong can always fall back on the pre-Cabinet meeting every Wed at the Istana. On paper, a gov’t can do whatever it wants, unless restrained by the court, the people or the Agong.
It may still happen — i.e. withdrawal of executive authority — if the Agong feels that he can’t see where politics ends under Muhyiddin, and where good gov’t, science and data begin.
The other question that arises remains on whether the Prime Minister would be able to work on economic recovery. It’s not enough to have civil service support. The Prime Minister also needs subject matter experts.