Motion of urgency and public importance should be subject to debate and vote


HAVING read Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun’s clarification in the newspapers, it appears that Standing Order 14(1)(h), which refers to ‘Motion on matters of urgent public importance’ is governed by Standing Order 18, wherein such a motion is purportedly only subject to a discussion, and not to a vote.

Does this mean that a motion under Standing Order 18 is not subject to the normal rules of debate, and a vote thereafter in the House?

Standing Order 18(1) states:

18. (1) Any member other than a minister may rise in his place and ask leave to discuss a defined matter of urgent public importance by reading the text of the motion approved by Yang di-Pertua.

The marginal notes to Standing Order 18 (1) is ‘Motion for Definite Matter of Urgent Public Importance.’ These are the wordings of Standing Order 14(1)(h).

Standing Order 18(2) states:

 (2) A member who wishes so to ask leave shall at least twenty four hours not including holidays/ public holidays before the commencement of the sitting hand to Yang di-Pertua a written notification of three hundred words of the matter which he wishes to discuss and shall at the same time submit to Yang di-Pertua the motion which he proposes to move together with a written explanation to the effect that the matter is definite, urgent and of public importance; Yang di-Pertua shall refuse to allow the claim unless he is satisfied that the matter is definite, urgent and of public importance.

Does the word ‘motion’ appearing in Standing Order 14(1)(h) and the words ‘motion which he proposes to move’ appearing in Standing Order 18(2) have a different legal significance in terms of its meaning in relation to other motions which are subject to the normal rules of debate and vote?

I ask this because nowhere in Standing Order 18 does it state that the motion to discuss a matter which is definite, urgent and of public importance is not subject to debate. It says leave to discuss.

I also ask this because of Standing Order 38.

Standing Order 38(1) and (2) states:

38. (1) Debate upon any motion, other than a motion for the adjournment of the house and upon any Bill or amendment shall be relevant to such motion, Bill or amendment.

(2) Debate upon any motion for the adjournment of the house shall be relevant to the subject to be raised under Standing Order 17 or 18.

Standing Order 38(1) does not seem to make a distinction between a motion under Standing Order 18 and other motions. Hence, should not the normal rules of debate and vote apply as well? In other words, a motion is a motion. It is moved by someone. It must be adopted or not adopted. It must be accepted or rejected.

To do this, the learned speaker can rely on the provision of Standing Order 38(1) which states that debate upon any motion shall be relevant to such motion. As we all know, ‘shall’ means must.

Why is the learned speaker tying himself down to the interpretation that it does not entail the normal rules of debate and vote thereafter the discussion? We all can agree that a motion of no-confidence is a motion of urgency and public importance.

It does not make sense for the house to discuss matters of urgency and public importance pursuant to Standing Order 18, and yet do not pass a resolution to that effect. Surely, there must be some practical use for the urgent and important discussions at the august house. – October 18, 2020.

*Puthan Perumal reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.



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