PETALING JAYA,Nov 24: A confidence motion in the Dewan Rakyat should be treated as urgent and of public importance, lawyer and former law professor Gurdial Singh Nijar said today.
He said the importance of the motion arose from the constitutional provision that the prime minister must resign if he loses the confidence of the Dewan Rakyat.
“This implies the prime minister loses the support of the majority if there is a successful motion of no confidence against him in the house,” Gurdial said. “The prime minister is said to have lost support if a supply bill is also defeated.”
This constitutional provision indirectly showed that a confidence motion could be taken even though it is not specifically mentioned in the constitution, he said.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun should therefore treat a motion of no confidence in the prime minister as being urgent and of public importance as required under the Standing Orders, said Gurdial.
“In fact, such a motion should even take precedence over all other government business,” he added.
The Supply Bill 2021 (the federal budget for next year) is scheduled to come up for a vote on Thursday. MPs have also submitted 25 motions of no confidence in Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister. However, the speaker has said it would be up to the law minister whether to grant priority for the motion ahead of government business.
The minister, Takiyuddin Hassan, had said yesterday that there were no procedures in the constitution or Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat for a motion of no confidence in the prime minister. He also said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had the prerogative and could best decide how to determine if the prime minister has sufficient support.
However, Gurdial said the constitution indirectly showed that a motion of no confidence in the prime minister could be taken.
Another lawyer, Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, said Takiyuddin should study the precedent set by the Federal Court in 2010 when defections caused the collapse of the government led by Muhammad Nizar Jamaluddin, leading to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, appointing Zambry Abdul Kadir to head a new government.
Rafique said the Federal Court had decided that the measure of support (for the head of government) “could be gauged not within the legislature but also through extraneous factors”.
He said the legitimacy of Muhyiddin’s government should be tested on the floor of the Dewan Rakyat.
“What is important is that a vote in the house will clearly show the numerical support the prime minister enjoyed,” he added.