KUALA LUMPUR – May 8, 2020: Many Malaysians have reacted with disbelief to the attempt to topple the current government via a motion of no confidence in the Parliament.
Most baffling to them was what they considered as the poor timing of the move as the country was still struggling with the Covid-19 outbreak and the economic woes resulting from the lockdown to contain it.
Thousands have remarked – on the comments section of a Facebook post by political satire page, Tentera Troll Kebangsaan Malaysia – that 94-year-old Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who resigned as prime minister (PM) in February, should let his political ambitions go and move on.
Political analyst Dr Azmi Hassan said the initial motion in support of Dr Mahathir’s effort by Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who is the Semporna parliamentarian and Sabah Chief Minister was actually bad for the Pakatan Harapan opposition bloc.
“The general perception is that the opposition is taking advantage on the current pandemic situation in trying to topple the government,” he said.
Azmi added that thel motion demonstrated that some in the opposition bloc will continue to pursue their political objectives at any cost despite the current trying times.
“It is akin to how China is trying to take advantage of Malaysia by encroaching into our economic exclusive zone in the South China Sea whilst we are busy handling the Covid-19 crisis,” said Azmi.
Shafie’s motion was rejected by Dewan Rakyat speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md. Yusof as it contravened Article 43 of the Federal Constitution which essentially disallows the parliament to question the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s powers to appoint a PM.
The parliament will reconvene for a one-day special sitting on May 18 despite calls from PH parliamentarians for it be done for two-weeks to discuss about matters concerning the Covid-19 outbreak and its effects on the people.
“Did Dr Mahathir forgot that the power tussle in PH had delayed many governmental matters including this viral plague which forced the government to take drastic measures to handle it?” said Gerakan president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai.
Instead of their political ambitions, Lau believed that politicians should be more concerned on how the outbreak has rendered 520,000 Malaysians without income and the country’s losses which amounted to RM63 billion since the partial lockdown order was enforced in March.
There were also those who argued that Ariff was wrong to reject Shafie’s motion claiming that it was equivalent to an attempt to question or undermine the Agong’s powers.
Political blogger Raggie Jessie was among those who believed so, saying that the nature of the motion was only to gauge the majority support that a parliamentarian, who is not a PM, has in the Dewan Rakyat.
Constitutional expert Professor Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz from International Islamic University of Malaysia however, disagreed to such suggestion.
“The Federal Constitution is silent on a vote of confidence in parliament because Article 43(2) stated that the power to determine the confidence of the majority (in parliament) is the Agong’s discretion.
“So, when we have others to also want to determine such a thing, it means that they are trying to go against said article. The parliament only has the power to do a motion of no confidence should the PM ceases to command the support of the majority,” she said.
Besides Shafie’s motion, Dr Mahathir had also submitted a similar government-toppling motion to Ariff – a no-confidence on PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – which was accepted today.
Ariff however, did not specify when exactly will the motion be tabled.