What PAS’ proposed vote of confidence is worth

TUAN Ibrahim Tuan Man, deputy president of PAS, has openly stated that the party intends to table a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament.

According to PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan, the proposal to table a vote of confidence arose as a result of rumours that certain quarters were not happy with Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

It would be reasonable to assume that the dissatisfaction (if it exists), has to do with inter alia Dr Mahathir’s non-committal vis-a-vis the promised handover of premiership to Anwar Ibrahim.

Confidence of the majority

A prime minister has to, in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s judgment, “command the confidence of the majority of the members of (the Dewan Rakyat)”

In the event the prime minister “... ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the (Dewan Rakyat), then, unless at his request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the Cabinet.”

Such constitutional provisions, not uncommon in other countries, have led to the creation of a parliamentary mechanism known as the “vote of no confidence”.

On March 28, 1979, a vote of no confidence was tabled against then United Kingdom prime minister James Callaghan. He lost the vote by one vote (311 votes for the motion and 310 votes against the motion). Parliament was subsequently dissolved and a general election was held.

Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, Professor of Constitutional Law at Universiti Malaya, has pointed out that there have been successful votes of no confidence, in Malaysia, at the state level. These cases include Stephen Kalong Ningkan (Sarawak, 1966); Harun Idris (Selangor, 1976); and Mohammad Nasir (Kelantan, 1977).

Ramifications of PAS’ proposed vote of confidence

Gopal Sri Ram, a retired Federal Court judge, is of the opinion that PAS’ proposed motion of confidence would have no effect whatever its outcome.

In the event he is right, a failed vote of confidence could motivate certain quarters to push for a subsequent vote of no confidence. In the event he is wrong, and the king is of the opinion that Dr Mahathir has ceased to command the majority of the Dewan Rakyat, then either the executive has to resign or parliament will be dissolved leading to a general election. 

It is, however, worth noting that, according to the Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Orders 15(1), “on every sitting day Government business shall have precedence over Private Members business.” In effect, this could mean that PAS’ proposed motion may not see the light of day. 

Alternatively, PAS’ proposed vote of confidence could be used by Dr Mahathir to further solidify his premiership. With PAS and possibly even Umno backing the proposed vote of confidence, it would be unwise for any member of parliament from the Pakatan Harapan coalition to vote against the motion lest it leads to an unexpected general election two years before it is due. – February 11, 2020.

*Joshua Wu Kai-Ming reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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  • Mahathir (and Bersatu and its "frogs") having the confidence of the Dewan Rakyat is NOT important!!!!

    In GE15 ...... the confidence of the RAKYAT (especially the B40 and M40) is MORE important!!!

    Remember Tanjung Piai ...... and ...... Kimanis!!!!

    Posted 4 years ago by Malaysian First · Reply