Motion of no confidence against PM explained

By Gurdial Singh Nijar

THE Speaker of the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat) has accepted a motion by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, MP for Langkawi, that the present prime minister (PM), Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, does not command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan.

The speaker said he made this decision to be fair and just and to uphold the integrity of the Dewan and Parliament. He is perfectly within his rights to so decide.

What next?

The motion must be put (tabled) at the sitting of the Dewan. There will be a debate on the motion, at the end of which there will be a vote by MPs present in the Dewan.

If the motion is carried, by a simple majority of those present and voting, then the PM must tender his resignation together with that of his Cabinet.

The PM may also, instead of tendering his resignation, request the King to dissolve Parliament. The King is not obliged to agree to the request. Recall that the then sitting MB of Perak made this request to the then Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak in the Perak State Assembly crisis. The request was not acceded to.

If the King agrees to the request to dissolve, and the Dewan is accordingly dissolved, a general election must be held within 60 days of the dissolution.

The King may, as an alternative to dissolution, invite an MP to form the next government. This person must be one who, in the King’s judgment, is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Members of the Dewan Rakyat. This is at his subjective discretion. It is his judgment and based on who he thinks is likely to have the majority confidence.

How the King decides who has this majority confidence depends on His Majesty. He can invite members and interview them as to whom they support, as was done by the King recently when deciding on the appointment of the present PM. But he need not do so by this method. His Majesty can choose any method he thinks most appropriate to decide who in his judgment is likely to have the confidence of the majority.

There is also the possibility that this issue of who has the confidence of the majority will be decided by the Dewan on a fresh motion, if accepted to be tabled by the speaker. – May 8, 2020

Gurdial Singh Nijar, a former law professor, currently practises law. 

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