Tag Archives: dewan rakyat

111 voted for power over the constitution

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.

 

It’s up to the MPs now, and Selamat Hari Raya!

In the past three months, we witnessed how Malay politics brought down a rightfully elected government and installed a government by appointment without the stamp of legitimacy by the Dewan Rakyat. I don’t have any issue with Malay politics, but, my predominant concern is that leaders, no matter what their politics, must always operate within the ambit of the constitution.

I have stressed this point in my recent posts and that is the only point I want to make concerning the current state of politics. I have made this point so often that I think I may be sounding like a broken record. Should there be more flouting of the constitution in the future by the PN government, my point will be the same: Please uphold and follow the constitution.

So, not to bore my readers any further, I have decided that I will make no further comment on current politics. I think my readers are smart enough to understand the stand I have taken and I don’t think I need to belabour the point.

Besides, after the May 18 Dewan Rakyat meeting, I believe it is now apparent to the MPs that the PN government is on a trajectory that could threaten our parliamentary democratic system of government if it continues not to test its majority at the Dewan Rakyat through a vote of no confidence.

I also believe we can trust our elected officials to fight on our behalf. Anwar Ibrahim is now the Opposition Leader and former prime minister, Tun Mahathir Muhamad, is in his corner. I’m sure many MPs realise the significance of a no-confidence vote now and how important it is to respect the mandate of the people. I’m sure we will see them standing up for the constitution and we will be rooting for them. It’s up to you, now, MPs!

That doesn’ mean I won’t write on politics at all. If some new developments take place and they warrant comment in the public debate, I’ll write on it.

Meanwhile, I’ll move on to other things. Folks, Hari Raya is on Sunday. Enjoy the break and the occasion though muted it might be due to the Movement Control Order. Nevertheless, it is a reason to enjoy!

Selamat Hari Raya!

 

 

PM of just a 100?

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has done it again — abandoned the requirements of the constitution and interpreted the Dewan Rakyat session in a logic only he understands!

According to media reports, he sent a note to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker saying that he is the “ketua majlis” (head of the council) and in that capacity said only the Agong’s address will be heard on the first session of Parliament under his leadership on May 18 because of Covid-19. In other words, there will be no debates and other matters that are followed according to the Standing Orders when a Dewan Rakyat session is convened.

“Head of council”? Where in the Federal Constitution does it say that a PM is a “ketua majlis”? The Dewan Rakyat is not a council and has no head except for the Speaker. But the PM is now ‘ketua majlis”?! Covid-19 is well under control in Malaysia and is an excuse rather than a legitimate reason.

Who’s advising the PM on constitutional matters? The Prihatin Nasional (PN) government by every day is sounding more and more like Umno under Najib Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Is the PM aware that he will be embarrassing the Agong by inviting him to an improper session of his so-called council, which constitutionally isn’t a Dewan Rakyat session, and, therefore, can be challenged in court? He is willing to do this?

I guess it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he is resorting to non-constitutional means to hang on to power, Umno style. It’s apparent that the only reason why he is doing this is to protect his 70-member Cabinet and a few others who put him in power, all of whom don’t add up to even a 100. He is willing to sacrifice or compromise the democratic rights of more than 32 million people to protect about 100 people.

Muhyiddin is prime minister to these 100 but he is not prime minister to the rest. We didn’t elect him and he knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on if he were to follow the constitution. Hence all these politicking and unconstitutional ways of doing things.

Look at the Malacca state assembly. Did they follow the standing orders when the PN assemblymen convened a state assembly without the opposition to elect their own Speaker? Now, in Kedah, the PN assemblymen want to remove Mukhriz Mahathir as Menteri Besar (state chief minister). Well, just call for a vote of no confidence in the state assembly. That’s the constitutional way of conducting state assembly business. There’s no need for statutory declarations and rushing to see the Sultan. Follow the constitution and call for a vote of no confidence. If PN wins it, Mukhriz will be ousted.

So, why don’t they do it? They are afraid they will lose? If you don’t have the confidence of the majority in the assembly, why seek to topple the current government? PN politicians are so greedy for power?

The PN government is an illegitimate government. Therefore, whatever it does will be illegitimate and can be challenged in court until it wins a vote of no confidence. That’s common sense. Anyone can see that. So, if they want to continue with their illegitimate business, it is their choice.

I’m glad that the Opposition MPs are not taking the open, brazen and shameless flouting of the constitution lying down. Mukhriz is insisting that Kedah state assemblymen follow the standing orders. MPs are speaking up about the absurdity of a one-day Dewan Rakyat sitting where there will be no debate. A lawyer has said that the validity of the one-day May 18 Dewan Rakyat sitting without debates can be challenged in court. Two other lawyers have filed a legal action to declare that the May 18 session is unconstitutional.

More people need to speak up against the unconstitutional conduct of the PN government which is tantamount to lawlessness. We should not condone any public official acting without regard to the rule of law.

 

Well done, Mr Speaker

The fact that Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has accepted former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s request for a motion of no confidence against his successor Muhyiddin Yassin clearly shows he is upholding the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

Ariff recognises that in a parliamentary democracy — which is the form of government we practise — MPs have the right to move a motion of no confidence against a sitting prime minister — in this case, one who wrenched power from a rightfully elected government and refused to seek legitimacy from the Dewan Rakyat, and, in doing so, abandoned the practices of parliamentary democracy.

In accepting Tun’s proposal for a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin, Ariff made a decision according to the provisions and spirit of the constitution. Tun had requested two proposals, one was the motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin on the basis that the latter does not command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat and the other was to retain the Speaker in his current capacity until Parliament dissolved. Ariff accepted the former but dismissed the latter saying it was not in line with Standing Order 27.

He made the decisions based on the constitution. That is what the people want of our leaders: to follow the constitution. We don’t want leaders who seize power by political means and who do not comply with the constitution. We can’t have leaders who follow one law for themselves and another for others. We want leaders who will uphold the constitution and not circumvent it.

In this case, Ariff set a good example in complying with the expectations and spirit of the constitution.

I wish I could say the same of de facto Parliament and Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan. He said only government matters will take priority during the one-day May 18 sitting. I wonder if he is aware of how our parliamentary democracy works? Somebody should tell him it is the Speaker who has complete authority over Dewan Rakyat proceedings and there is no authority above him during the sessions. If he doesn’t know this, he should start studying the Westminister-style of the parliamentary system we follow in Malaysia and until he becomes knowledgeable on the subject he should say nothing more on it.

It is nor surprising that Takiyuddin doesn’t seem to know because he is a PAS member and PAS couldn’t care less about parliamentary democracy because they want– at all costs — to establish a syariah-compliant government and a parliamentary democracy is an obstacle to their objective. They would find a monarchy more suited to their feudal concepts of law and government.

When the motion of no confidence is introduced in the Dewan Rakyat, we can except PAS’ 18 MPs to vote against it. But all the remaining 204 MPs minus one (Muhyiddin) should vote for a vote of no confidence in Muhyiddin. Their vote will not be a vote against Muhyiddin’s government but a vote for the continuing practice of parliamentary democracy — that Parliament is the supreme lawmaking institution in Malaysia.

Malay leaders need to demonstrate that they are committed to and will stand by the constitution. It’s time they stopped using politics to seize power and legitimize it even when they go against the grain of the constitution. Non-Malays want a Malay leadership that complies with the constitution as the hope of non-Malays is in the constitution — not in political power.

So, all true-blue Malaysian MPs, Malay or not must fully back Tun’s motion of no confidence in Muhyiddin and cast their vote in favour of parliamentary democracy and vote out Muhyiddin and his government which shows no sign of following parliamentary democracy. Do this for Malaysia.

It may be time for lawmakers to go back to their books

What is most worrying about the current crop of national leaders is their willingness to play politics to the extent of compromising the law and getting away with it in the name of race, religion and country.

Politicking, it appears, is the predominant means of securing power. Rule of law and strict adherence to the processes, norms and conventions of parliamentary democracy which this country practises sometimes are obscured by desperate politicking.

Take the former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Datuk Noraini Ahmad’s now famous (or infamous) conclusion that about RM19.4 billion of GST funds was “unlawfully diverted” by the Najib Razak administration for the “good of the country” but it wasn’t “robbery” in rebuttal to former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s description of the missing funds as “robbery”.

Without having to split hairs over the definition of “robbery”, the obvious conclusion is that if it was “unlawfully” moved, then it is wrong — it went against the law and the lawbreaker must face the law, not wiggle his way out of it.

The tendency to politick is a way of thinking that has been bred by Umno over six decades of rule. If Umno politicians find power slipping out of their hands, they politick and look for backing from a higher authority like a superpower like the US or China or a rich nation like Saudi Arabia or the royals to stay in power. But, they do not rely on democratic practices.

If you want to get your leader out, whip up enough support to hold party polls and vote him out. Or build up your team and support until the next general elections and vote him and his coalition out. All the politicking that is done will be carried out within the ambit of the law and democratic practices. The constitution provides the boundaries we can go up to and not beyond. When politicians go beyond the law, the Dewan Rakyat is duty-bound to call them out.

Failing to fall back primarily on the rules, norms and conventions of our parliamentary democracy is the reason why we have reached this state where an illegitimate government continues to govern without the stamp of approval of the Dewan Rakyat.

Until the current Prihatin Nasional government wins a confidence vote from the Dewan Rakyat, it has no constitutional authority to claim to be a prime minister or government of the people or to introduce policies and bills in Parliament. It must legitimize itself first, and then it receives the mandate of the people to govern. Isn’t that how the law works?

Perhaps, Umno-bred politicians are not aware of the demands and expectations of the constitution and the parliamentary style of government Malaysia practices. Now is the time to study the law and the constitution so that they learn how to follow their tenets.

Perhaps, the Dewan Rakyat can get constitutional experts like Shad Saleem Faruqi, who is a law professor with Universiti Malaya and currently holding the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair as Professor of Constitutional Law, to conduct sessions with lawmakers as to what they can and can’t do under the law.

It would help in creating a political culture where adherence to the law and the constitution becomes the predominant overriding context in which public office and debate are conducted.

The people deserve lawmakers who strictly follow the law and the parliamentary democracy we practise.

Muhyiddin’s new political normal; the Dewan Rakyat must act

When Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) from April 14 to April 28, he called on the people to adapt to the “new normal”. He said restrictions may be enforced for a longer period and urged the people to practise the new normals of avoiding mass gatherings and crowded places and looking after one’s personal hygiene.

It was good advice because the restrictions may continue as covid-19 is not going to disappear any time now. Until it runs its course and new cases stop or a cure is found, people have to keep practising the new social norms of frequently washing hands, maintaining social distances, wearing masks and avoiding large crowds even as we carry on with life.

However, the prime minister made no mention of what the new normal will be in government. What is apparent in his short tenure so far of less than two months is that he has sidestepped democratic processes. Is that going to be a new normal in his form of government?

He had three clear opportunities to show that he respects, honours and upholds the democratic conventions Malaysia practices as a parliamentary democracy but in all three cases, he chose NOT to follow them.

Firstly, when the Agong chose him as the 8th Prime Minister, there was a time span of about a day before he was sworn in. In that time span, the previous prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was able to get a minimum of 112 MPs to back him as PM but the king by then had stopped all communication with him. (Tun said the palace had no communication with him.)

The whole country saw Tun had 112 signatures, which means Muhyiddin couldn’t have had a majority out of the 222 MPs, and, surely, Muhyiddin knew it too. If he respected the democratic practices that this country follows, as prime minister-designate, he would have realised he had lost majority support and declined the position in the democratic tradition. The fact that he didn’t do the obvious, that alone immediately disqualifies him as prime minister because it is the prime minister — not the king (as constitutional law experts repeatedly have said in the past) — who upholds the democratic processes of this country and advises the king accordingly, who concurs with the mandate of the people.

That’s the Westminister-style parliamentary democracy we follow but with that one decision NOT to decline Muhyiddin dismissed the democratic processes and chose to become prime minister by appointment.

If, in upholding democratic traditions, he then faced the Dewan Rakyat to test if he had the majority and won a vote of confidence, he would have received the respect and support of the people. But, he failed to test his appointment in the Dewan Rakyat and continues to lead an illegitimate government. Is that another new normal we are expected to adapt to?

Secondly, when covid-19 was declared a pandemic, he should have developed a plan of action and presented it to the Dewan Rakyat for approval. Again, he failed to follow democratic practices.

Thirdly, when he introduced the RM250 billion (later upgraded to RM260 billion) economic stimulus package, he should have presented it to Parliament as is customarily practiced by parliamentary democracies, for approval before announcing it. Again, he failed to follow democratic conventions.

How can a prime minister of a democracy fail to uphold democratic procedures and continue in that position? For failing to abide by the democratic practices by which he was elected to Parliament in the first place, he must be censured by his peers — at the Dewan Rakyat. The people should not be forced to adapt to a government where an unelected prime minister governs as if it were the new normal.

The May 18 Dewan Rakyat session is crucial as the people need to know if the MPs they elected will fight to establish parliamentary democracy as the supreme rule of law in this nation.

What the Dewan Rakyat must do

The issue isn’t to topple Muhyiddin’s Prihatin Nasional (PN) government by a vote of no confidence. The issue is to affirm the democratic processes and hold a prime minister who strayed from those principles to become accountable to the people again. The Dewan Rakyat must be seen upholding the democratic process and fighting for the mandate of the people to be respected by all, especially the prime minister.

A vote of confidence/no confidence must be called by the MPs because it is the democratic process. Whether PN wins or loses is of secondary importance. Both sides will lobby to get majority support and will be prepared for either outcome: win or lose.

Should PN fail to win a no confidence vote,  the Dewan Rakyat must make it clear as to who has their majority support. The support can’t be split between a few names. The MPs must be clear their support is only for one name.

Fully aware of the sentiments against the previous prime minister, I wish there is another name I can mention here. But, in the current circumstances, I believe Tun Mahathir needs to be brought back to helm an interim unity government to steer this nation through the uncharted territory that is before us. He is the only one who can command the respect of both sides, ensure that democracy is practised, prevent corruption and fairly distribute increasingly dwindling national resources for the benefit of the nation.

The current inexperienced PN government may be out of its depth dealing with a deteriorating economy and a restless people facing salary cuts and layoffs and a pandemic. If the way it distributed the RM260 billion economic stimulus package is anything to go by, it is apparent that the priority of the PN government is to throw money at its political base which is mainly in the B40 group, in the style of the former prime minister, Najib Razak.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has declared that the world economy has contracted by 3% and that developing nations will be hardest hit. Malaysia, too, will be hamstrung by a contracting economy. Economists, according to media reports, predict the Malaysian economy will contract by 2.5% to 4%.

Faced with a grim immediate economic future, can the PN government be trusted to make the right decisions or submit to political expediency which is the trademark of this government?

Is it prepared to trim its oversized Cabinet of 70 ministers and deputies? Is it prepared to cut Cabinet salaries? Is it prepared to make the tough decisions of trimming the civil service? If it does the above, it risks losing support and what happens next may be another Sheraton move to seize power for survival. To avoid such an eventuality, the PN government may resort to channelling funds from Petronas, Khazanah, EPF and the government-linked companies (GLC) to bail itself out. Unfortunately, the reserves of these would also be depleting. How much money can they spare to bail out the government?

There might have been a monetary reason in making PAS president Hadi Awang the Special Envoy to the Middle East — in the hope funds can be obtained from these nations to help out the PN government. Again, unfortunately, these nations’ gross domestic product (GDP) have also declined as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. How much help can they give?

To make matters worse, the first thing Hadi did as Special Envoy was to send a letter to Muslim leaders disparaging Pakatan Harapan leaders, his fellow Muslims and Malaysians. Clearly, he was operating out of his depth.

Yet, due to tightening funds, if Umno and Bersatu start squabbling over who gets whatever little is available, the only party that will emerge stable enough through the turmoil will be PAS because they don’t have much problems living with less. The situation will play right into Hadi’s hand, as there is nothing now to stop Hadi — as the next most senior person in government — to be appointed prime minister. And, that will be the end of democracy in this nation.

The above, no doubt, is a depressing picture of the immediate future but the potential of it happening exists in the PN government.

But, all of the above can be averted if Dewan Rakyat votes to uphold the democratic processes.

My own personal feeling is that things will not go well with the PN government unless it wins a no-confidence vote.

The Tun factor

The best government to lead Malaysia through the economic and political uncertainties of the future is a unity government led by Tun Dr Mahathir.

Perhaps, PH leader and Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim needs to consider this option. He needs to talk with Tun and other MPs on how best to achieve this. It must be a well-thought-of plan that can be executed quickly and efficiently with the support of the majority of the MPs in the event Muhyiddin fails a no-confidence vote.

This time, if Tun is given the mandate to lead a unity government, he must be given overwhelming support, perhaps of more than a 2/3 majority so that it is clear that the Dewan Rakyat wants no other leader. There should be no undermining of his position but unstinting support backed by a smaller Cabinet filled with good leaders picked up from all the parties.

Tun’s leadership is needed to ride out the hard economic and political times ahead. I believe, at this point in time, he is the best choice to lead Malaysia until the next general election. I also believe that should he come back as prime minister for this short period, the Najib factor will be neutralised for good and there will be political stability. By the end of Tun’s term, Malaysia’s economic decline will be arrested and institutions would be finetuned so that the problems of the past do not repeat.

Then, from the 15th general elections onwards, Malay-led political coalitions can present their respective teams to the people and it’s up to the people to choose their representatives. Democracy will continue — vibrantly!

MPs, the time is here to do the right thing

There’s a very simple way to resolve the current political mess: Do the right thing! It begins with the prime minister doing the right thing, which is to call for the sitting of the Dewan Rakyat immediately.

Instead, it has been postponed to May 18 “to allow a proper time frame for the new cabinet line-up to understand their duties in the ministries and their departments respectively”, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Department as reported in the media.

Why the delay when it is in the hands of the prime minister to convene the Dewan Rakyat immediately and make his appointment legitimate? If he does and wins the confidence of the majority of the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, he can carry on with running the government legitimately. If he doesn’t he should have enough integrity to face consequences. Either way, he would restore stability and win the respect of the people.

Any credible prime minister will want to validate his or her appointment by immediately seeking a confidence vote from Parliament. That is the first order of business of an appointed prime minister. Until he does this, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will be seen as stalling and leading an illegitimate government. He will have no standing internationally or even at home.

I’m doubtful if this Umno-PAS-led coalition has the support of the Malay voters it claims to represent. Do Malay voters really want a government they didn’t choose by vote? Again, we will only know if a vote of confidence for the prime minister is called in the Dewan Rakyat.

The current continuing political imbroglio will be recorded for all to see in Malaysian history. The protagonists will be named and the MPs who supported or opposed the current leadership will also be made known. The decisions the MPs make now will be the legacy they leave behind for posterity. History will judge. MPs need to be very careful in making the right decisions now. Posterity will view them with pride or shame by the decisions they make now.

This Umno-PAS alliance, made for whatever reasons, carries the potential to destroy the fabric of ethnic harmony we have striven for since our independence. PAS is public about its desire to establish an Islamic state. It wants a foot in the federal government to influence it and to move in and take over in the event of a power vacuum, which will be followed by an Islamic government. Non-Malay and East Malaysian MPs, if they don’t already know this, please wise up to it!

For this reason alone, all MPs — whether Malay or non-Malay but truly Malaysian — must be seen not supporting the Umno-PAS pact.

The issue right now is whether our elected officials are prepared to do the right thing, which with regard to the current political scenario is to respect, protect, uphold and restore the mandate of the people given to the Pakatan Harapan in the 14th General Elections.

We the people are waiting to see if our elected officials will stand by us. My feeling is that if they do the right thing, resolution will follow. Now is not the time to fight for posts, wheel and deal and switch sides — unless you are switching to the party on the side of the people. Now is the time to know what you stand for — to uphold the constitution as the supreme law of the land or sell the votes of the people for personal gain. We are watching.

I also believe — a strong gut feeling — that when our MPs do the right thing and stand by the people, help will come from an unexpected source or sources. That will result in a speedy resolution of the current political imbroglio and ensure that the rights of the people are left intact.

The best course of action now is to do the right thing.

 

Follow the law, and decide wisely

It would have been a coup de grace if former economic minister Azmin Ali had succeeded in delivering a Malay-majority coalition to the prime minister. But it had one major flaw; the coalition included leaders from Umno — the main Malay-based party — facing corruption charges. The PM put his foot down and did not endorse the coalition, the one thing he has always wanted – a united Malay front to lead the nation. He could not work with Umno en bloc, saying that political expediency could not be justified when it compromised principles.

He then resigned from the government and his party, Bersatu. Bersatu then left the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) which led to PH’s collapse.

Understandably, PH’s supporters are fuming but this is the political reality. Such things will happen in politics. The more important question is how do we deal with it when it happens? All the parties concerned should take a step back to view the situation from a distance in order to gain some clarity and objectivity so that they make the right decisions.

It is imperative that all the MPs and authorities concerned follow the rule of law and act within the ambit of the constitution. When PH collapsed, the first thing that Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said was to take the issue to the Dewan Rakyat. This was concurred with by the Prime Minister when he gave his reason for resigning in his message to the nation on Wednesday saying that the next step was the Dewan Rakyat.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Dato Mohamad Ariff announced today that there will be no special convening of the Dewan Rakyat on Monday (requested by the interim prime minister) until the Agong officially calls for it as according to the constitution. He also said that the special sitting could only be held after the Agong had appointed a prime minister. The king is now planning to invite the political parties to nominate their candidate for PM.

Bersatu has nominated its president Muhyiddin Yassin as PM. Since he is open to working with Umno as a bloc, Umno looks set to be back in government. It will be deja vu and back to the old Umno politics!

This is politics. Hard to get used to it.

(The situation is still fluid. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.)

 

Dewan Speaker should ban hitting at the person

Public debates should never get personal. In the Dewan Rakyat, however, debates more often than not involve name-calling.

In the heat of the moment, Members of Parliament tend to relapse into their personal capacities and hurl words that hit at the person rather than on the lack of information, perspective or logic.

Last week, when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) concluded that the previous administration had not “robbed” RM19.4 billion in Goods and Sales Tax (GST) credit funds as stated by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng last year, opposition Umno politicians raised an uproar that the latter had misled the Dewan by saying the funds were “robbed”.

When Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof disagreed with the Umno politicians, it was natural for them to express their disappointments but when its Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin referred to the Speaker as “useless”, that was disrespecting the chair.

If he had argued with the Speaker based on facts and logic, that would have been acceptable parliamentary behaviour — not dismiss him with an adjective that hints at a personal trait.

In another debate, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (BN – Arau) called on the Speaker to expunge a question submitted by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) MP for Labis, Pang Hok Liong, who had asked the government to clarify regarding the allowances and benefits given to the King.

Shahidan said the question was an insult to royalty as it involved the rulers and it should not have been allowed. In the ensuing debate — which one newspaper called “a shouting match” — Pang told Shahidan to mind his own business and added “at least I don’t molest underage girls” as his parting shot! Shahidan shouted back, “Hey, bangsat (rogue!)!”

The argument continued with each asking the Speaker to get the other to retract his statements. The Speaker asked both to retract the offending words or he would eject them out of the house. They complied.

(Shahidan was charged with allegedly molesting a girl last year. However, on April 24 this year, the Sessions Court in Kangar gave him a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.)

This is not the first time MPs were attacked on personal issues or characteristics. In many previous debates, words like “kling” — a derogatory term referring to Indians — and “bocor”, a reference to a woman’s period, among a host of other unsavoury but very personal terms were used on fellow MPs.

The Speaker should ban the use of any word or phrase that alludes to the person, especially if it derides the other person and diminishes who he or she is in the eyes of others. There should be no reference to one’s race, religion, culture, personal traits or lifestyle choices.

At the Dewan Rakyat, MPs are there NOT in their personal capacities. They are there as representatives of their voters and all their arguments should be confined to their issues, not one’s own personal life.

The Speaker should provide clear guidelines as to the personal issues that should not be even mentioned in debates and threaten ejection from the house or even suspension. It would definitely enhance the quality of debates in the Dewan Rakyat!