On 13th August 2021, Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Mahiaddin bin Md Yasin (“TSMY”), the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, surprised the nation when he publicly and openly sought for bipartisan support in relation to the upcoming confidence vote in Parliament.
In the process of doing so, TSMY admitted he no longer commanded the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat).
TSMY also recognised that the only two options available to him are are to:
i. resign; or
ii. request for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament.
TSMY is correct that those are his only two options in the event he no longer commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
The two options are based on Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution which is couched in mandatory terms.
In order to avoid either scenario, TSMY offered to introduce certain Bills in Parliament which would bring about certain reforms. In exchange, Members of Parliament from the Federal Opposition who are agreeable to the offer would have to support TSMY during the upcoming confidence vote in Parliament.
TSMY’s public solicitation of bipartisan support was to a certain extent, a Confidence and Supply Agreement.
It was constitutionally inappropriate for TSMY to publicly make such a proposal in light of his admission/recognition that he no longer commanded the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
TSMY’s position is similar to Dato’ Seri Ir. Mohammad Nizar bin Jamaluddin position back in 2009.
Dato’ Seri Ir. Mohammad Nizar bin Jamaluddin was the Chief Minister of Perak but had lost the confidence of the majority of the members of the Perak State Legislative Assembly. He, nevertheless, refused to resign and maintained the status quo.
When the matter went up to the apex court, the Federal Court held following:
“Similarly here, on the literal interpretation of art XVI(6), we are of the view that the word ‘shall’ should be given a mandatory effect. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the appellant in the circumstances of this case to tender the resignation of the executive council. The term executive council by definition includes the MB (see art XVI(2)). We, therefore, agree with the respondent that the refusal on the part of the appellant to resign after having been directed to do so by HRH clearly went against the express provisions of art XVI(6). It cannot be the intention of the framers of the State Constitution that in the circumstances, it is open to the appellant whether to resign or stay on as MB. The word ‘shall’, in our opinion, ought to be given a mandatory effect otherwise it would lead to political uncertainty in the state. The appellant cannot continue to govern after having lost the support of the majority. To allow him to do so would be going against the basic principle of democracy.” (Emphasis mine)
Although Nizar Jamaluddin concerned the State Constitution of Perak, the provision in question was inserted into the State Constitution by virtue of Article 71 of the Federal Constitution and is similarly worded to Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution.
In light of Nizar Jamaluddin, as soon as TSMY admitted/recognised that he no longer commanded the confidence of the majority, TSMY should have either tendered his resignation or requested for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament.
Tan Sri Shahrir bin Abdul Samad, a former Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, has opined that Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob (“DSIS”) could be the interim Prime Minister if Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Mahiaddin bin Md Yasin (“TSMY”) resigns as Prime Minister.
DSIS was recently appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister and it would be reasonable to assume that DSIS would step in as interim Prime Minister in the event of a vacancy of the Prime Minister position.
First of all, it is important to note that the position of Deputy Prime Minister is not provided for in the Federal Constitution.
Rather, it has come about as a result of pragmatism and over the years has become somewhat of a constitutional convention.
This article will discuss the viability of Tan Sri Shahrir’s proposal based on 2 possible reasons which could be given in the event TSMY resigns.
Loss of Confidence
If TSMY ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the lower House of Parliament, he has two options – namely to resign (and tender the resignation of the Cabinet) or to request for the dissolution of Parliament.
Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution provides the following:
“If the Prime Minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives, then, unless at his request the Yang di Pertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the Cabinet.” (emphasis mine)
Article 43(4) of the Federal Constitution uses a mandatory word, i.e. “shall,” rather than a discretionary word such as “may” thereby leaving no room for an individual to remain as Prime Minister if he/she no longer commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat.
Option 1: Request for Dissolution of Parliament
Although TSMY has the option of requesting for the dissolution of Parliament, on this issue, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (“YDPA”) has absolute discretion and does not have to follow the advice of the Cabinet.
Article 40(2) of the Federal Constitution provides that:
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may act in his discretion in the performance of the following functions, that is to say:
(b) the withholding of consent to a request for the dissolution of Parliament …”
If TSMY requests for a dissolution of Parliament and the YDPA withholds his consent for the same, TSMY has to tender the resignation of the entire Cabinet.
Option 2: Resign
If TSMY immediately opts to resign as a result of loss of confidence of the majority of the members of the lower House of Parliament (Dewan Rakyat), he also has to tender the resignation of the entire Cabinet.
If that happens, DSIS will no longer be the Deputy Minister and the next in line.
There would be little basis, save in the interest of preserving stability pending either the appointment of an individual as the Prime Minister or the holding of general elections, to appoint DSIS as interim Prime Minister.
TSMY previously suffered from pancreatic cancer and underwent chemotherapy.
If TSMY resigns due to ill-health, for example, DSIS could be appointed as interim Prime Minister.
This appointment would be temporary until the YDPA is satisfied that an individual commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat and can be appointed as the Prime Minister.
However, at the present moment, there are questions surrounding the numbers of Members of Parliament supporting TSMY.
This would not prevent the appointment of DSIS as interim Prime Minister but would undoubtedly affect the legitimacy of his appointment.
“This racial understanding must be protected and strengthened so that the aspiration of making Malaysia a role model for other countries can become a reality soon” (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, Christmas 2011)
“I believe in racial tolerance as it is integral to peace in Malaysia. It can be retained if mutual understanding, respect and cooperation continue to be practised” (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, Chinese New Year 2013)
“I hope the Festival of Light of the Indian community in Malaysia will overcome all darkness which obstruct unity among the various races so that we can enjoy life in harmony in the spirit of tolerance which is
important for a multiracial country like Malaysia” (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, Deepavali 2014)
Aren’t the aforementioned excerpts from past speeches by our beloved Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) touching? They are full of racial tolerance and promotes moderation, in view of our multi-racial society.
The quotes above are exactly what the average Malaysian has always wanted and still wants to hear! Whoever makes our DPM’s speeches deserves a raise!
Sad to say, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin (and many other politicians) practices double-talk. During racial/religious festivals, we get to hear wonderful 1Malaysia speeches (such as those above). Other times, we hear the usual divisive mantra
In 2009, Malaysia’s DPM blamed BN’s loss at Bukit Gantang (parliamentary seat) and Bukit Selambau (state seat) on the ungratefulness of the non-malays towards the Government. In an interview with Mingguan Malaysia, he said:
“Ini yang mungkin menyebabkan sukar BN mendapat sokongan walaupun kita fikir bila mereka hendak sekolah Cina dibantu, kita bantu, sepatutnya mereka membalas budi.”
“Pada waktu itu, kita pun tidak berharap
sokongan kaum Cina akan meningkat 40
peratus dan sebagainya cuma kita berharap ada peningkatan sedikit tetapi apa yang berlaku ia mencatatkan penurunan, macam tidak ada penghargaan terhadap apa yang kita lakukan.”
This (the removal of former Perak MB, Nizar Jamaluddin) could have made it difficult for BN to get support although we thought that when they wanted aid for Chinese schools, and we helped, they would have repaid the favor
At that time, we didn’t expect support from the Chinese to rise to fourty percent and all. We hoped for a mininal increase in support but what happened was that a decrease was recorded, as if there was no gratefulness towards what we have done
Eh, why the change in tone? If Muhyiddin was one who always treasured racial unity, he wouldn’t have blamed a specific race or community of people for BN’s loss.
Doesn’t he know that doing so would lead to dissatisfaction towards the Chinese? Why the double-talk?
A year later, Muhyiddin found himself in the limelight when he said the following:
“I am a Malay first but I want to say that being a Malay does not mean that you are not a Malaysian.”
“How can I say I am a Malaysian first and a Malay second. All Malays will shun me and say it’s not proper as Indians will also say they are Indian first,”
Our dear DPM doesn’t even believe in being a Malaysian first! Those prioritising their respective race may end up developing a superiority complex (e.g. malay supremacy) in which they feel those of other races are inferior to them
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was also quoted in 2010 as saying that anyone was free to form an association, including Chinese or Indian versions of the Malay rights group, Perkasa. He added that it would be acceptable as long as it was formed with good intentions
Again we see emphasis on one’s race over being Malaysian first. Groups championing the rights of any particular race definitely falls under the category of an ‘obstruction to unity among various races’
Groups like Perkasa stand up for Malay rights at the expense of other races [e.g. “…when their (Malaysian Chinese) power spreads, then it will threaten national security and the May 13 incident will return” – Ibrahim Ali]. If we wanted to promote unity amongst everyone, shouldn’t we be encouraging the establishment of NGOs that fight for the rights of Malaysians?
In 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that the Chinese-dominated DAP was now looking to increase its Malay membership, suggesting that it would be poaching supporters from the same pool as PAS, whose members are predominantly Malay Muslims.
“And now we hear DAP wants to encourage Malays to join its party.
“My question is, if Malays enter DAP, who will enter PAS?”
There are so many things wrong with Muhyiddin’s statements. First of all, is it wrong for Malays to join DAP? Constitutionally and legally, no. Socially, it’s not wrong and has even become somewhat of a trend (e.g. Dyana Sofya, Melati)
Morally, it’s arguable since a significant amount of people (including Muhyiddin, as per his 2011 opening speech in the AGMs of Umno Wanita, Youth and Puteri) believe that DAP is anti-malay and anti-islam.
Next, is it socially unacceptable for non-malay muslims to join PAS? Not at all actually. What about Indian Muslims? I’m sure PAS has at least a few! How can our DPM have such a skewed view that a Chinese must join DAP while a Malay must join PAS
PAS even has a non-muslim wing! I don’t see UMNO having a non-malay or non-muslim wing! Why isn’t racial-unity-promoter Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin advocating UMNO’s membership to be opened to non-malays? (similar to what was proposed by Dato Onn Jaafar)
Just a reminder to our DPM and every other politician out there, spare us the empty rhetoric! It’s time that you ALL walk the talk! The rakyat (people) are paying attention and will hold you accountable for every word spoken
*You can also find this at The Malaysian Insider , Malaysia Today , Free Malaysia Today
Malaysia’s very own Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education was of the opinion that the seminar on Allah and Christology at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) was just a form of “intellectual brainstorming which should be viewed positively”
Let’s do a simple recap. The seminar was an academic programme to explain problems related to the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.
Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (Muafakat) general-secretary Abdul Karim Omar as well as Indonesians Masyud SM, Irena Handono, Menachem Ali dan Insan LS Mokoginta were amongst the speakers at the event
Insan LS Mokoginta claims to be a former priest but the Bishops Conference of Indonesia said it had no information or data on him.
Furthermore, Irena Handano did not complete her “education.” She was only briefly with the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters as a novice
Isn’t it amazing how individuals with such questionable backgrounds were invited to speak at an academic seminar? One would at least expect a public university of UiTM’s prestige to have vetted its guest speakers
After all, the topic is about the problems related to the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. Shouldn’t only the qualified be allowed to speak on such a sensitive matter?
Funny enough, it was Insan LS Mokoginta and Irene Handano who came up with statements completely unrelated to the topic of discussion and contrary to the claim that the event was not aimed at ‘belittling other religions or attacking the faith of other races’
The former said, “Every Jesus follower should enter Islam. If not, it would be a betrayal to Jesus” while the latter’s input was that, “We shouldn’t wish Merry Christmas because it means that Jesus is reborn.”
Masyud SM (another speaker at the seminar) went on to say that the “Christian gospel is a fake gospel.” Mind boggling huh? What is mind boggling is how our Minister of Education considers that brainstorming!
That is an outright attack on the Christian faith! There was nothing intellectual about it, and there was definitely nothing positive to be taken from it
In order to fully understand how the Christians feel after such a distasteful event, let us switch shoes. Let us envisage a hypothetical situation where a private university conducts a seminar about the “Persecution of Non-Muslims” but ends up talking about the “threat of Islamisation”
As if that wasnt bad enough, a few half past six ulamas and former muslims were invited to openly criticise Islam and its beliefs. On top of that, the seminar was labelled a form of “intellectual brainstorming which should be viewed positively”
As a non-muslim, even I would be offended that such an abominable event took place! In a multi-religious country such as Malaysia, there’s no room for religion-bashing
Daniel H. Pink once said, “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”
Our politicians need more empathy instead of opening their mouths to defend or support such revolting events!
*Read it also at The Malay Mail Online , The Malaysian Insider and at Malaysia Today