Speaker’s removal doesn’t mean PM enjoys majority support, says lawyer

Lawyers say the motion of no confidence against the prime minister should be prioritised to determine if he enjoys majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has cautioned against taking Muhyiddin Yassin’s success in removing Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof as Dewan Rakyat speaker as a sure sign that the prime minister enjoys the confidence of the house.

Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar al-Mahdzar said many factors would come into play when a vote of no confidence against Muhyiddin is put to debate.

“Those who supported the speaker’s removal may vote for the motion because they want a snap election,” he told FMT.

Adding that early polls would only happen if the motion of no confidence is carried, he said the prime minster would then have to ask for the dissolution of the Dewan Rakyat.

“If the king refuses to dissolve it, the prime minister will have to resign with his Cabinet.”

Ariff was removed as speaker on Monday by a narrow margin of two votes. Of the 222 MPs, 111 government MPs voted in support of the motion while 109 MPs from the opposition and the independent bloc were against it.

The two who did not vote were Maximus Ongkili (PN-Kota Marudu) and Rashid Hasnon (PN-Batu Pahat) who was in the speaker’s chair.

Syed Iskandar said some of the MPs who supported the government currently faced serious criminal charges.

“It is not in their political interest to keep the prime minister in power,” he added.

“They will want a prime minister who will instruct the attorney-general to withdraw their cases.”

He opined that if a critical floor vote had been taken, the result would have been different.

“Those who voted for the removal of the speaker might not have done so because if the motion failed, it would not have amounted to a no-confidence vote.”

He also spoke of the possibility that the prime minister would take disciplinary action against those who voted against the motion to remove the speaker.

Where a motion of no confidence succeeded, he said, the prime minister would not be in a position to impose political punishments.

Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali meanwhile said newly installed speaker Azhar Harun should call for the no-confidence vote as Dr Mahathir Mohamad (independent-Langkawi) had filed a fresh motion on June 27.

Noting that the motion had been listed last on the order paper, he said it should be given priority in order to determine whether the prime minister enjoys the support of the majority.

He added that in a parliamentary democracy, a floor vote must be taken as the legitimacy of Muhyiddin’s government had been questioned since March 1.

Under Article 43 (2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, the king appoints a prime minister who in his judgment is likely to command the support of the majority of MPs.

Muhyiddin was sworn in as the eighth prime minister after a week of political turmoil following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government in February.

His coalition comprises PPBM, Barisan Nasional, PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and those from Sabah.

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