A conundrum on the fixed-term parliament act

PREVIOUSLY Hafiz Hassan penned down his arguments for and against fixed-term parliament.  

The writer lists down the pros and cons of enacting the act, and he argues that enacting the act will not safeguard the government, as a call for a snap election can happen any time. 

Perhaps this allows us to look at the United Kingdom’s Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022 (DCPA), which had repealed the Fixed-term Parliament Act (FTPA).

The FTPA enacted by the UK did face a lot of criticism and it blamed parliament when a constitutional deadlock happened in 2019. A snap election was only triggered by two-thirds of the majority vote or the government of the day lost a vote of no confidence and no alternate government is confirmed within 14 days.

Such an incident once again does not guarantee a five-year tenure of the government, since a snap election could take place in desperate times.

Thus, the DCPA replaces the following from the FTPA where:

a. It revives the prerogative power relating to the dissolution of parliament and new parliament.

This allows the prime minister to request for dissolution from the sovereign, which granted would enable the prime minister to call for a general election. Under Malaysia’s Federal Constitution, this will still protect and preserve the prerogative power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Article 40(2)(b)).

b. The maximum term of a parliament is five years.

This allows the government of the day to keep its tenure for five years. However, if the government of the day ceases to command the confidence of the MPs, then he must immediately seek the advice of the Agong. This retains the power vested under Article 43(4) of the constitution.

c. Ensure that parliament is automatically dissolved five years after it has first met.

The following amendments in the DCPA, are in line with the constitution principles where parliament must constitute a confidence vote.

As such, for the government to make reforms on the tenure, both the FTPA and DCPA must be studied to ensure a holistic approach is taken without overriding the Federal Constitution. This is because freedom of choice is something granted under the Constitution.

Hence, it is paramount to ensure that the government of the day is stable and works at its best for the benefit of the people. – January 15, 2024.

* Matilda George 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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