DAP’s Lim Kit Siang today insisted that a confidence vote in Ismail Sabri Yaakob be held when Dewan Rakyat convenes next week, saying failure to do so would mean that a much anticipated cooperation across the political divide could not take place.
Lim also said a confidence vote was the “correct constitutional position” despite a revelation yesterday that the Agong had told Ismail such a vote was no longer required.
The Iskandar Puteri MP said the appointment of a prime minister by the king and a motion of confidence in Parliament are “separate and distinct issues”, citing former judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer who said that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong could exercise his constitutional powers to appoint the prime minister under Article 40(2)(a) while Article 43(3) which says that the prime minister must tender his resignation if he does not have majority support is a matter for Parliament to determine.
Lim further claimed that the only reason the government did not want to allow a confidence vote was a fear of losing support.
“Ismail feared he would not be able to secure the support of 114 MPs in the vote of confidence in Parliament although they had expressed support for Ismail as prime minister in their statutory declarations and confirmed their support for Ismail as the new prime minister in their subsequent interviews with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Aug 20,” he added.
Yesterday, law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar revealed that it was the Agong who had said a confidence vote in Parliament was no longer needed.
He said the matter was discussed during Ismail’s audience with Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
The revelation came two days after Pakatan Harapan (PH) accused Attorney-General Idrus Harun of committing “treason” for saying a confidence vote was no longer needed following the confirmation of Ismail as the victor through a rigorous process based on sworn statements by 220 MPs.
PH had referred to a palace statement on Aug 18 which recommended a confidence vote to reaffirm the support for the person appointed by the Agong to form the government.
However, the palace did not repeat the request when it declared Ismail the victor on Aug 20, following a meeting of the Malay rulers hosted by the king.
Lim today indicated that the absence of a confidence vote would mean that cooperation between the opposition and the government had “suffered a grievous blow and is now up in the air”.
“There is no doubt that the possibility of an unprecedented political breakthrough in reaching a confidence-supply-reform accord between the government and opposition so that all Malaysians can single-mindedly focus on winning the losing war against the Covid-19 pandemic has suffered a grievous blow, and it is to be seen whether such an agreement can be salvaged before Parliament reconvenes next Monday,” he said, referring to the opening of the Dewan Rakyat on Sept 13.