Confidence motion is meaningless, says Sri Ram

PAS says it intends to table a motion of confidence in Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the Dewan Rakyat next month.

PETALING JAYA: An opposition motion of confidence in support of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad would have no effect whatever its outcome, according to retired judge Gopal Sri Ram.

He said there was no provision in the Federal Constitution, parliamentary Standing Orders or by way of convention for such a confidence vote to be brought to the Dewan Rakyat.

“It is up to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker whether to allow such a resolution,” he said in response to reports that PAS intends to table the motion next month in support of Mahathir’s leadership.

PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the purpose of the motion was to ensure political stability. “We see a need for him to stay on as prime minister until the end of this term. However, there appears to be a never-ending crisis and this has disrupted the political scenario and the economy,” he said on Saturday.

Gopal Sri Ram.

Sri Ram said even if the motion succeeded it would have no impact. Equally, if it failed, that would not be the same as a motion of no confidence in Mahathir. “It does not mean the Dewan Rakyat has no confidence in the incumbent prime minister,” Sri Ram said.

Pakatan Harapan’s agreement for Anwar Ibrahim to succeed Mahathir was a private arrangement and had nothing to do with Parliament.

A confidence vote was unnatural and unheard of in the Westminster parliamentary system.

Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim said in a Facebook posting that there was a group that believed an opposition party could move a motion of confidence to ensure Mahathir remained in office.

However, “another propagandist” asserted that Anwar must have the support of the Dewan Rakyat to be prime minister.

Zaid agreed that a motion of confidence was never done elsewhere, and pointed out that the Dewan Rakyat is a legislative body entrusted to pass laws which the country requires.

Zaid said it was up to the parties in government to decide on the issue of who became the prime minister.

“If the selection of the prime minister is not a popular choice then someone can move a vote of no confidence against the PM and his government,” he added.

Should the motion succeed, Parliament could be dissolved and another general election held.

Zaid said it was unbecoming and stupid for anyone to think Anwar would not have the support of the Dewan Rakyat when he assumed office.

Another lawyer, Bastian Pius Vendargon, said a confidence vote in the prime minister was tabled by the Barisan Nasional in early 1976 when Hussein Onn was made prime minister following the death of Abdul Razak Hussein.

“That unprecedented exercise made sense for the government to demonstrate to the people that Hussein enjoyed the confidence of the majority of MPs to succeed Razak,” he said.

However, the PAS motion was more of an exercise in politics rather than law and convention.