Is Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy “one of a kind” in the world where no-confidence motion is not allowed?”

Malaysia is now the daily staple of international news – with at least four items of international news yesterday, viz:

  • AP Report: “Anti-graft group: Malaysian PM must explain $700M in account”;
  • New York Times report: “Switzerland Investigates Fund Executives in Malaysian Corruption Case”;
  • Economic Times: “Fitch warns of downgrade risk in Malaysia's rating outlook” and
  • BBC: ”Malaysia police to question former PM Mahathir over rally”.

All these international attention are not for Malaysia’s edification but only contribute to Malaysia’s disrepute and demonization in the global community – to the great pain and sorrow of Malaysian patriots locally and internationally.

An item which will pique international interest is the issue of no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Parliament – which will be unprecedented in Malaysian history, whether finally moved or otherwise.

Today, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who was formerly in charge of Parliamentary affairs, waded into the “no-confidence motion” controversy, saying that former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal to oust Najib through Parliament by way of no-confidence motion is doomed to failure because the system currently does not allow a no-confidence vote against an individual.

I do not agree with Nazri that the only way to show no confidence is to try and “ambush” Bills.

I do not agree that Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy is “one of a kind” in the world where no-confidence motion is not allowed?

A close study of the Parliamentary standing orders will show that there is room for moving a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, although this is not specifically provided for, if the Speaker upholds the doctrine of the separation of powers.

The Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said at the United Nations yesterday that “democracy has different meanings in different countries”, but the variations cannot be so humongous as to disallow a no confidence motion from being moved when a majority of MPs have lost confidence in the Prime Minister!

Otherwise, what type of a democracy is Malaysia having and what type of a Parliament is Pandikar presiding over as Speaker?

I agree with the Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak that when Najib is voted out in a no-confidence motion, it also means the downfall of the Najib Cabinet.

However this does not mean that Ministers in the out-voted Najib Cabinet cannot serve in the new Cabinet to be formed by the new Prime Minister who replaces Najib as the new head of government.

The question is firstly whether there is an absolute majority of Members of Parliament to support a no-confidence motion against Najib, and secondly, whether there could be an agreement by a majority of MPs for the appointment of the new Prime Minister who will then form his new Cabinet.

The three former Pakatan Rakyat parties of DAP, PKR and PAS have a total of 88 MPs while UMNO/BN have 134 MPs, i.e. 88 UMNO MPs and 46 non-UMNO BN MPs, comprising:

UMNO – 88
MCA – 7
MIC – 4
PBB – 14
Gerakan- 2
SUPP – 1
PBS – 4
PRS – 6
SPDP – 4
UPKO – 3
PBRS – 1

By the time Parliament meets on Oct. 19, a new party, Parti Amanah Negara (AMANAH), would have emerged with their MPs taking their places in Parliament with the PAS parliamentary representation about halved.

Even without a clear and specific directive from the PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang in support of no-confidence motion against Najib, the MPs from DAP, PKR and AMANAH would be able to muster some 75-78 Opposition MPs, raising the question whether there will be some 35 UMNO/BN MPs who are prepared to support a no-confidence motion against Najib.

In asking UMNO/BN MPs to back a non-confidence vote against Najib as Prime Minister, Mahathir said that BN will not fall after Najib is removed as BN is still the party with the majority.

Mahathir said that as long as Najib remains in power, the economy would continue to be affected, Ringgit and shares would fall, cost of living would increase because of GST, the national debt would go up and cannot be repaid, unemployment would rise and billions of people’s money would be abused.

Mahathir said a vote of no-confidence was the only way forward as Najib had blocked all other legal means to remove him.

Mahathir should realise that while DAP/PKR/Amanah MPs are prepared to support a no-confidence vote in Najib, they need assurances that the policies and the political system will be reformed to ensure that no new Najibs can arise from the passage of a no-confidence motion against Najib Razak as Prime Minister.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah