Suspending Standing Orders way to achieve no-confidence motion

MORE than 40 years ago on January 27, 1976, the Kuala Kedah MP stood up in the Dewan Rakyat at 5.58pm – the Dewan having passed a motion not to adjourn until 7.30 pm – and proposed to move the following motion:

“Bahawa Dewan dengan ini mengucapkan setinggi-tinggi tahniah atas perlantikan Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Hussein Onn sebagai Perdana Menteri dan menyatakan kepercayaan penuh terhadap pimpinan beliau dan berikrar akan memberikan kerjasama dan sokongan sepenuhnya kepada beliau bagi melaksanakan tugas dan tanggungjawabnya.”

(“That the House hereby expresses its sincere congratulations on the appointment of the Most Honourable Datuk Hussein Onn as prime minister and expresses full confidence in his leadership and pledges to give him full cooperation and support to carry out his duties and responsibilities.”)

It was a two-in-one motion: a motion of thanks and a motion of confidence. But Kuala Kedah wasn’t a minister. Yet his motion saw the light of day – late though it might be.

After a debate which lasted beyond 7.30pm – the Dewan having passed another motion to extend sitting time until 8pm – the motion was agreed and passed. 

It was a historical moment. As alluded to by Fakhrurrazi Rashid, it was the first vote of confidence in the Dewan for a sitting prime minister, who had just taken over the office after the untimely death of his predecessor Abdul Razak Hussein

Now, who among the current government MPs will stand up in the Dewan when it sits from November 2 to propose to move a similar motion of confidence in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin?

Will the Kota Bahru MP, who is also a minister, do it? It was he who once informed the press that PAS had submitted a motion of confidence for Muhyiddin “to express support for a leader who has “prioritised the people” while spearheading the Perikatan Nasional government.

Fakhrurrazi asserts it is the best way to determine the prime minister’s position but whether it will happen is anybody’s guess.

Which leaves us with Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik’s motion under Standing Order 90(2) to seek the suspension of Standing Order 15(1) and several related orders.

“This means that through my motion I have asked the Dewan Rakyat to make a decision to suspend government business while the no-confidence motion by the Langkawi MP (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) is read out and debated,” he said in a statement on Facebook.

It is held that it is “not unusual for a particular Standing Order or all the Standing Orders to be suspended to permit a certain action or actions to be taken. Suspending Standing Orders allows parliamentary business to be carried out in a way which would not otherwise be allowed by the Standing Orders.”

This allows for, among others, no-confidence or other motions to be moved. It looks to be the most practical way of ensuring a no-confidence motion sees the light of day. This in turn will ensure the government has the “legitimacy and a strong mandate in parliament to face the era of the critical Covid-19 crisis and the dire state of the people’s economy.”

Kudos to Maszlee for a thorough reading of the Standing Orders but fingers crossed the speaker will not indulge in legalistics to stall his motion.

By : Hafiz Hassan – The Malaysian Insight.

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

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