Motion unlikely to be allowed

No provision in Standing Orders; expected motion also does not carry three elements required under Rule 18

By Eddy Lok, The Borneo Post

Will the much-speculated motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi ever happen or be allowed?

The rules say any such motion must be specific, of public interest and urgent but in this case, it contains none of these elements, it has been pointed out.

So, will it come to pass in the Dewan Rakyat? The answer is: Highly unlikely.

This parliamentary process is not going to happen or be allowed to take place come Monday, June 23 or soon in the wake of the declaration by the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) that it has lost confidence in Abdullah’s leadership.

In the first place, there is simply no provision for it (motion of no confidence) in the Parliamentary Standing Orders.

And, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia can be expected to use his discretion and powers to disallow any such move if it is attempted at the coming sitting.

The expected Motion simply does not carry any of the three elements that are required under Rule 18 for it to be considered and accepted, that is, the matter has to be specific, of public interest and urgent.

“Rule 18 says it all…is this (what the SAPP is intending to do) urgent? You ask yourself why do you want to discuss a thing like that in parliament?” a Dewan Rakyat official told The Borneo Post yesterday.

If the Motion meets one of the three criteria — specific, of public interest and urgent — a reason of not more than 300 words must be attached together with the Motion to justify hearing it or persuade the Speaker to permit it.

In the event that the Speaker is so satisfied that the Motion must be allowed — under Rule 18(2) even if he (Speaker) so allows it — there could be another hurdle.

Rule 18(3a), which says if there is opposition to the Motion that the House need not debate or discuss it, the Speaker shall not be able to do anything about it, unless, also under Rule 18(2b), more than 15 MPs stand up to support it.

“Rule 18 is so strict even if the Speaker allows a motion, others can oppose it. In this latest case, what is so urgent about the vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister?” the official posed.

SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee in declaring that the party had lost confidence in the Prime Minister, had said its two MPs Datuk Eric Majimbun and Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bui would support a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister on Monday while opposition Pakatan Rakyat would also back any such vote.

Who will table the motion, is unclear.

And so far, neither the SAPP nor any of the opposition members of the 222-seat Parliament have submitted any kind of motion against Abdullah, according to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

MPs also are required to give a 14-day notice to file any motion under Standing Orders Rule 27.

An emergency or an urgent matter needs a shorter notice period of one day under Standing Orders Rule 18(1).

Even that, in the coming scenario at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, any such motion is unlikely to see the light of day, with the Speaker having full powers to decide and deal with the attempt, the first of its kind if it takes place.

Still, any MP can propose provided it meets the provisions of the Standing orders (Peraturan Mesyurat).

“But, some might misinterpret the rules and could be wrong about Rule 18(2),” the official explained.

Rule 18(2) also states that any motion must have something to do with a particular Minister’s function or duties, such as his neglect or refusal to act specifically.

“This one (related to the SAPP declaration) is not specific but is general…no confidence against the PM is not considered a specific matter and so it does not come under Rule 18. So tidak boleh lah (unlikely to go through)…” the official added.

For now until the next few days, it remains to be seen if the attempt for a No Confidence Motion against Abdullah would be successful.

After a three-week break, parliament sits again from June 23 to July 15.

Interestingly, in Sabah, in the 1994 case, a Vote of No Confidence took place outside the State legislature in that it was not done in the Assembly as signatures were sent straight to the Governor, prompting Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan to later resign as Chief Minister.


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