Ngeh: Speaker's view on no-confidence motion 'clearly flawed'

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Ngeh: Speaker's view on no-confidence motion 'clearly flawed'
Ngeh: Speaker's view on no-confidence motion 'clearly flawed'

Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham has chastised Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun over the latter's views on a proposed motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, saying he was shocked and appalled.

"His (Azhar's) view is clearly flawed, if not perverse, defying logic and against the current legal position in Malaysia.

"If his view is correct, then no Motion of No-Confidence can ever be brought before the Dewan Rakyat for a vote if the prime minister decides that such a motion cannot be allowed to surface.

"Azhar has made the Parliament subservient to the Executive when the democratic system under our Federal Constitution requires the Executive to be answerable to Parliament," Ngeh said in a statement.

With Muhyiddin's majority in the Dewan Rakyat in doubt and a flood of no-confidence motions, one of which prompted Umno's Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to write to Azhar, imploring him to allow the no-confidence motion to be voted on, Azhar responded with a lengthy comment piece on why it cannot happen.

"The legal position in Malaysia on this issue is clear," said Ngeh, who is also a lawyer.

"The motion of no confidence against the prime minister (and therefore, his government) takes precedence over all other matters in Parliament.

"As rightly pointed out by Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi (above), the speaker must not hide behind the Standing Order of the Dewan Rakyat, which is not law but rules that govern the internal meetings of the Dewan Rakyat," he said.

According to Ngeh, the Standing Order cannot regulate or control matters provided in the Federal Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.

"The speaker must be reminded that he and all the Members of Parliament have taken an oath to uphold and protect the Federal Constitution and not the Standing Order of the Dewan Rakyat.

"Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution provides that if the prime minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority 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," Ngeh said.

He said that for more than 40 years since the case of the first chief minister of Sarawak, Stephen Kalong Ningkan vs Government of Malaysia (1968) 1 MLJ 119 until the Perak crisis in 2009, it has been settled law that the only place to determine whether a chief minister, menteri besar or prime minister has the majority support of the House was to be determined by a vote in the House (State Assembly or Dewan Rakyat).

"However, the position was altered in the Perak crisis in the case of Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin vs Zambri Abdul Kadir (2010) 2 CLJ 92,5 where it was decided that the majority support may also be determined by another method outside the House.

"Despite the shift in the legal position, it is, however, clear that the Dewan Rakyat is still an avenue to determine if a prime minister commands the majority support of the members of the House," Ngeh said.

Parliament Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun
Parliament Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun

He said it was still the best avenue and cited the confusion following the Sabah State Assembly election of 2018, following which Musa Aman was appointed chief minister after a general election and within less than 48 hours, Shafie Apdal was appointed the new chief minister.

"Such uncertainty also overshadows the appointment of the new menteri besar of Johor, Perak and Kedah and the appointment of the new chief minister of Malacca," added Ngeh in reference to Perikatan Nasional state administrations that have taken over from the Pakatan Harapan governments elected in 2018.

"The appointment of Muhyiddin as the new prime minister of Malaysia also faces a similar predicament."

He also took aim at the political horse-trading even when the House is not in session, calling it most unhealthy.

"I would like to remind Azhar that, by convention, a Motion of No-Confidence against the prime minister is to be fixed as the first item on the agenda for the day in Parliament.

"This is because there is no purpose of MPs going through other items of the agenda if the government is going to fall," Ngeh added.