The following article is submitted to the editorial of MalaysiaGazette by Hafiz Hassan.
Motions of confidence are primarily of two kinds: motion of confidence in the government or prime minister (tabled by the government or backbencher) and motion of no confidence in the government or prime minister (tabled by the opposition).
Historically, there have been two motions of confidence in a newly sworn prime minister brought before the Dewan Rakyat.
The first was a motion of confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Hussein bin Onn who was sworn in as prime minister on January 15, 1976 following the death of Tun Abdul Razak in London on January 14, 1976.
On January 27, 1976 a motion of confidence in Hussien Onn which was moved by Kuala Kedah MP Datuk Senu bin Abdul Rahman was agreed and passed by the Dewan Rakyat after a two-hour debate.
The second motion of confidence was in Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Bin Haji Ahmad Badawi who was sworn in as prime minister on October 31, 2003 after Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as the fourth prime minister.
Three days after the swearing in, on November 3, 2003 a similar motion of confidence in Abdullah was moved by Shah Alam MP Dato’ Ir. Mohd. Zin bin Mohamed. The motion, made under Standing Order 27(3), was also agreed and passed by the Dewan Rakyat after another two-hour debate.
None of the above motions was seen and taken as doubting the legitimacy of the new prime minister’s appointment or undermining the power of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong under the Constitution.
Parliament is one of the three branches of a Westminster-style government. It is established by the Constitution under Chapter 4 and is vested by Article 44(1) with the “legislative authority of the Federation”.
Article 62 mandates Parliament to regulate its own procedure. And Article 63 confers constitutional privileges to Parliament in that “the validity of any proceedings in either House of Parliament or any committee thereof shall not be questioned in any court.”
As such, a motion of confidence in the prime minister in the Dewan Rakyat after his appointment by the Agong under Article 43(2)(a) is far from being “not in line with the Constitution.”
It does not undermine the Agong’s authority.