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Perikatan claims Citizenship Amendment Bill postponement a sign of no-confidence against PM Anwar

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Perikatan Nasional (PN) today alleged that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's government was forced to postpone the tabling of a controversial Bill to amend citizenship laws because it couldn't muster enough support, including from members of its coalition.

Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, PN's chief whip, suggested this was tantamount to a no-confidence vote against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and called on the prime minister “to do the right thing”. Takiyuddin suggested either Anwar resigns or calls for a vote to prove that he still commands the majority.

“Apart from the fact that the Bill did not gain two-thirds support, the failure in this aspect can also be interpreted as a vote of no confidence against the prime minister and his government,” the PAS leader said in a statement.

“By convention even in the United Kingdom, should a government fail to get support for its biggest agendas such as passing the Royal Speech or the Budget, it can be considered that the government no longer commands the House's support,” he added.

“Therefore it must do the right thing: either the prime minister steps down, dissolves Parliament, or calls for a vote.”

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution on Wednesday brought the government's proposed constitutional amendments on citizenship laws to Parliament after much verbal zig-zagging with civil society groups including the National Human Rights Commission, who called five of the proposed changes were harmful and regressive.

But the Bill was not debated. Instead, Saifuddin said debate on the amendments will only happen in the next sitting in June. Thursday was the last day for the March proceedings, which spanned just over a month.

Takyuddin alleged the move was orchestrated because the Anwar government knew it could not get enough support from members of Parliament. Any constitutional amendments would require two-thirds backing — a minimum of 148 votes from 222 members.

The PN leader said the number of government federal lawmakers present on the day the Bill was tabled was less than 145.

“Apart from the question on whether or not the Bill had been endorsed by the Conference of Rulers given the difference in the Bill that was tabled and the draft, the government had a bigger problem that was it didn't have enough support had the debate gone on as scheduled,” Takiyuddin said.

Saifuddin said he had asked for the debate on the Bill to be delayed to June to give members of the House more "space” to deliberate because of the significance of the amendments.

Takiyuddin alleged Saifuddin was being dishonest and that the deferment was staged to conceal the lack of support for the amendments, including among members of the Malay monarchs.

“We believe the government should have more integrity and be honest by demanding the home minister resign and it must also table a Bill that is endorsed by the Conference of Rulers.”