Malaysian PM Muhyiddin seeks bipartisan support for upcoming confidence motion in parliament
The prime minister also pledged to hold a general election by the end of July next year.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Friday (Aug 13) that he is seeking bipartisan support to pass an upcoming confidence motion in parliament.
In a televised address, Mr Muhyiddin promised that if the confidence motion received two-thirds of support in the House, a constitutional amendment Bill to limit the prime minister’s position to just two terms, as well as an anti-party hopping Bill would be introduced in the parliament.
He also promised to push ahead with parliamentary reform by ensuring more balanced participation in parliamentary select committees by both sides of the political divide.
“The number of select committees can also be increased to ensure all MPs play a more effective check-and-balance role through their involvement in these committees.”
“As recognition of the check-and-balance role of parliament, 50 per cent of parliamentary select committees will be chaired by government MPs and 50 per cent by opposition MPs,” he said, adding that the government would provide additional personnel support and remuneration for the chairs of all select committees.
“The government has also agreed to implement Undi 18 (the legislation allowing 18-year-old Malaysians to vote) without waiting for the automatic voter registration which will take time,” the prime minister said.
He stated that he did not wish to cling on to power and said it was necessary to return the mandate to the people to select a new government at a more appropriate time. He pledged to hold the next general election by the end of July 2022.
“My aim in making these proposals is to enable the government to continue functioning during the pandemic with bi-partisan support. I, like all of you, have a responsibility not to let the kleptocrats rule if the political turmoil is not solved quickly,” he added.
If the appeal for bipartisanship was agreed to, Mr Muhyiddin said he would call for a special Lower House sitting to put forth the confidence vote as soon as possible.
Mr Muhyiddin said the government that will be formed if the motion of confidence is passed will be a more stable and inclusive one.
“We must be aware that the process of national recovery is not an easy endeavor. So we need the support, efforts and the focus of all parties to help the country back to its path of recovery,” said Mr Muhyiddin.
He said that he would extend an invitation to all party leaders to discuss his bipartisan proposal next week.
“I will issue an official invitation to all political party leaders to attend the meeting. I'm ready to listen to their views on this proposal”, he said.
On Aug 3, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he had gathered a sufficient number of statutory declarations (SDs) from party lawmakers who are withdrawing their support for Mr Muhyiddin.
Mr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah and Mdm Noraini Ahmad resigned as ministers overseeing energy and higher education respectively.
However, the prime minister insisted in a national address on Aug 4 that he still commanded the parliamentary majority.
He promised to prove his legitimacy through a motion of confidence, which is scheduled to be tabled in parliament on Sep 7.
There are 222 seats in the Malaysian parliament but two seats are vacant following the demise of the incumbents. Opposition parties currently hold 105 seats.
On Friday, Malaysia logged 21,468 new COVID-19 cases. There are over 1.35 million cases in total.
In his speech, the prime minister said that the finance minister had gotten inputs and proposals to improve the National Recovery Plan. In line with the proposals received, the government would, with parliament’s approval, raise the COVID-19 fund ceiling by RM45 billion (US$10.6 billion), from the previous RM65 billion approved in 2020, to RM110 billion.
This increase, he said, would help in fulfilling additional requirements to overcome the pandemic such as strengthening the healthcare system, improving aid delivery to citizens and supporting business continuity.
PAKATAN HARAPAN REJECTS PROPOSAL
In a statement issued on Friday night, opposition bloc Pakatan Harapan (PH) rejected Mr Muhyiddin's proposal.
PH said that by the prime minister's open admission that he had lost the support of the majority of the Lower House, the latter had to step down.
It noted that when Mr Muhyiddin said no other MP had been proven to have obtained the support of a majority of the Lower House, he had diminished the king's constitutional role in selecting an MP who in the monarch's judgement, was likely to command the confidence of the majority of the House, for the position of prime minister.
"As such, PH takes the position to strongly reject all of Muhyiddin's insincere offers which should have been made earlier and not at the end of his political life. The focus should be on saving the people and not his political career."
"We choose to be in solidarity with the people who are suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are confident we can produce better planning, especially to handle the pandemic, revive the economy and save people and their livelihoods," according to the PH statement.
Ahmad Zahid also issued a statement noting that Mr Muhyiddin has admitted to losing the parliamentary majority.
"As an MP who swore an oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution, he should not seize the king's powers to decide on matters of appointing a prime minister," said Ahmad Zahid.
"The party cannot consider all offers from a person who no longer has legitimacy, and (his actions) can be characterised as open bribery and desperate to continue his political life," he added.
UMNO's statement also called on the people to remain calm until the king had carried out his constitutional role to appoint a new prime minister.
Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, has also rejected the prime minister's proposal.