Two Thirds Majority Needed for the Generational End Game Bill?

In reporting on the Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022,[1] more popularly known as the ‘Generational End Game’ bill (“the GEG Bill”), the Edge Markets stated that, “The bill needs two-thirds majority support [in Parliament] to be approved.”[2]

Contrary to the Edge Market’s claims, the GEG Bill does not require two-thirds majority support.

The GEG Bill, being an ordinary Act of Parliament (also known as ‘ordinary law’), only requires a simple majority.

As a general rule, a simple majority of members voting suffices for decisions of each House of Parliament.[3]

Article 62(3) of the Federal Constitution states:

“Subject to Clause (4) and to Articles 89 (1) and 159 (3) and to sections 10 and 11 of the Thirteenth Schedule, each House shall, if not unanimous, take its decision by a simple majority of members voting; and the person presiding shall unless he is a member of the House by virtue only of paragraph (b) of Clause (1A) of Article 57, cast his vote whenever necessary to avoid an equality of votes, but shall not vote in any other case. ” (Emphasis mine)

In Loh Kooi Choon v Government of Malaysia [1977] 2 MLJ 187, the Federal Court recognised that ordinary laws only require a simple majority:

“Our Constitution prescribes four different methods for amendment of the different provisions of the Constitution:

(1) Some parts of the Constitution can be amended by a simple majority in both Houses of Parliament such as that required for the passing of any ordinary law. They are enumerated in clause (4) of Article 159. and are specifically excluded from the purview of Article 159 …” (Emphasis mine) [4]

In other words, it will suffice so long as more than 50% of the Members of Parliament present during a parliamentary sitting vote in favour of the GEG Bill.

A two third majority vote in Parliament is usually necessary for bills which:

(i) intend to amend most parts of the Federal Constitution; [5]

(ii) relate to a law passed under Article 10(4) of the Federal Constitution; [6]

(iii) relate to laws on the cessation of Malay reservations. [7]

For example, Article 159(3) of the Federal Constitution provides the following:

“A Bill for making any amendment to the Constitution (other than an amendment excepted from the provisions of this Clause) and a Bill for making any amendment to a law passed under Clause (4) of Article 10 shall not be passed in either House of Parliament unless it has been supported on Second and Third Readings by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of that House.” (Emphasis mine)

The GEG Bill, not being a bill which fits any of the above circumstances, would only require a simple majority to be passed.