KUALA LUMPUR,Dec 15 – Should the third reading of the Budget 2021 bill today lead to it being defeated, it would only pave the way for the filing of a motion of no confidence – and not necessarily translate into an immediate loss-of-confidence vote for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, said constitutional expert Prof Datuk Salleh Buang.
Salleh warned that defeating the bill at this stage will result in not only triggering the motion of no confidence but also defeating the Budget.
“The decision will result in filing yet another fresh motion of no confidence to the speaker. In doing so, perhaps the speaker has until Thursday when the session finally ends to decide whether to allow it or not.
“The speaker would also have to consider the present motions of no confidence filed during this session as well,” he told The Vibes in a phone interview yesterday.
Salleh, a former federal counsel with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, also warned that defeating the Budget could see the risk of civil servants being unable to receive their salaries due next year.
“That situation can be remedied if the government is dissolved in the immediate aftermath and elections held soon enough for the new government to come in and obtain fresh allocations during the new Dewan Rakyat session,” he said.
“However, that is another hurdle all together.”
Salleh opined that the Budget will eventually be passed at the third reading stage simply due to the present composition of MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.
“Even if all opposition MPs come together, unlike in the previous rounds, and vote against the bill, the PN government still has a two-MP majority to contend with on paper.
“Unless two or three MPs from the government decide to vote against the bill, chances remain fairly with the government to go ahead with their tabled Budget,” he said.
Meanwhile, Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi stated that defeating the bill depends on the number of MPs voting against it.
“A defeat by a simple majority of those present and voting may not be enough to amount to a vote of no confidence,” he said in a text message to The Vibes.
This, he said, is due to Article 43 (4) of the federal constitution which mandates that the defeat must be by an absolute majority of the total membership, which would be a minimum of 112 from 222 MPs.
At present, the Dewan Rakyat comprises 220 MPs following the recent deaths of Batu Sapi MP Liew Vui Keong and Gerik MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman.
As these seats have yet to be filled, the simple majority tally stands at 111 MPs.
In a last-ditch effort to shore up support, Pakatan Harapan has called on MPs from both sides of the divide to reject Budget 2021 when it is tabled for the third and final reading today.
Meanwhile, Langkawi MP and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who leads Pejuang, and Umno’s Gua Musang MP Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah told reporters yesterday that there is a possibility that the government will fall today.