I can’t believe that 111 MPs voted in favour of the Prihatin Nasional (PN) government’s motion to remove Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Yusoff from his position as Dewan Rakyat Speaker. The reason given was that the government had found a person to replace him.
Is that justification for an unelected government to terminate the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat for no wrong he did except to do his job?
The PN government thought it had the numbers with Gabongan Parti Sarawak’s (the Sarawak coalition) support. But a two-point win against the opposition’s 109 votes apparently jolted its confidence sufficiently to prevent it from having an election for the Speaker’s post. Datuk Azhar Harun — the PN choice — assumed the position without being elected, an act that contravened the constitution which requires a Speaker to be elected, not appointed.
(I couldn’t believe that Azhar actually resigned from his post as Election Commission chairman and waited in the wings until his bosses bumped off Ariff and he swooped into the Speaker’s chair. Azhar is a lawyer but he apparently ignored the fact that his position — like his bosses’ government — is unconstitutional.) Is this the kind of Speaker or government we want?
That seems to be the attitude of the MPs who support the PN government. They seem to be true opportunists who are taking advantage of the current political instability to get whatever they can out of it and they couldn’t care less if it was constitutional or not.
MPs should be the first people to cry “foul!” and raise a storm of protest when the government operates unconstitutionally. Rightly, the opposition MPs raised a hue and cry when debating the motion. But 111 MPs didn’t join in the protest.
This can only mean that these MPs would disregard the constitution in order to get what they want, which, in this case, is to stay in power. If Umno, PAS and Bersatu MPs support their coalition’s unconstitutional conduct, I can understand it. They have dropped the bar so low to accommodate their level of ability and skills that we really don’t expect anything better from them.
But why are MIC, MCA, GPS and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) supporting a coalition that is clearly not committed to adhering to the constitution? Do they not know that it is the constitution — not the leading Malay party/coalition — which ensures that the rights of minority groups like the non-Malays are upheld? Do they not know that the prime minister of a country must set the example in adhering to the constitution? If he/she doesn’t why should the rest of the country follow the constitution? Do they not know that a government that does not adhere to the constitution sows the seeds of anarchy? Do their members support what their leaders are doing?
Yet, they support an unelected, illegitimate government and justify its unconstitutional actions.
MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong justified PN’s motion against the Speaker by saying that Ariff was removed because he was picked by the Pakatan Harapan administration and that the government “wanted someone better” so that “all matters between Parliament and the government, as the executive body, go smoothly”!
Seriously, Mr Wee? None of these issues would have arisen if the PN government was elected or if it bravely sought legitimacy by facing a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. Instead, realising it is a minority and illegitimate government it is doing everything it can to get a majority even by disregarding the constitution. This is unacceptable. If a government does not have a majority, it must resign. If it stubbornly refuses to resign, it should be booted out and the MPs should do it.
It is the job of the MPs — and the Speaker (but whether Azhar will do his job or play politics to ensure his bosses remain in power is yet to be seen) — to fight for the rule of law and ensure compliance. A precedent must never be set that an unelected government that is yet to legitimise its rule can continue to rule with impunity.
The government claims it follows the constitution, so says its law minister, Takiyuddin Hassan. But talk is cheap; actions speak louder than words. Despite such blatant disregard for the constitution, 111 MPs did not see Muhyiddin’s motion as unconstitutional and worthy of their dissent.
How dismally they have failed the people! MPs need to show that they will adhere to the constitution no matter what the consequence. The fact that nearly half of the Dewan Rakyat didn’t show respect for the constitution simply tells us that these MPs don’t put rule of law first. We should not elect them again.