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No-confidence motion – setting the record straight – Comment by Speaker ‘Art’ Harun

I am aware of the discussions going on, most particularly after the correspondence between Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and I was made public and after my media statement last evening.

Allow me to address two burning issues, namely:

Whether the speaker has the power within the boundary of the laws or convention to speed up the debate of a private member’s motion of no-confidence in the Dewan Rakyat; and,

Whether a motion under Standing Order 18(1), namely, to discuss a defined matter of urgent public importance could be used to circumvent the order of business of the Dewan Rakyat so that a motion of no-confidence could jump the queue and be debated before government business….. (+ 10 pages)

Our comment

Screeds of legalistic self-justification have just emanated from the non-elected Speaker to explain why he allegedly determines he should place a call for a crucial vote of no confidence by the leaders of the largest block of MPs in Parliament at the back of the queue of business (to be discarded).

Hands up who read it through: No Comments!

Two hours in - no comments, people still trying to read the script!

Five hours and still no comments, people still trying to read the script!

So let’s cut to the chase, because this is about democracy and the will of the representatives of the people and no one is going to read this tedious and self-serving ‘judgement’.

Parliament exists to reflect the sovereign will of the people. It makes the laws and can change them also. Speakers do not need to be professional lawyers to interpret those bygone laws like judges, their job is to command the confidence of the present majority in the chamber and make sure that what they consider to be the important issues are discussed.

Above all, the Speaker must not be seen as the lackey of the executive, protecting prime ministers and preventing debates on matters of concern. He represents the MPs.

This means responding instantly to any plausible demand by the majority leaders to hold a vote of confidence. Drab debates, which the beleaguered prime minister might prefer to have time wasted on instead, should take their place after in the queue.

So it’s short and simple. Forget the clauses, the articles and subsections that guide the conduct of business (and can be argued to mean anything and nothing) and respond to the moment.

Call the vote.

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