Parliament ought to determine who commands the confidence of the majority

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Malaysia, since her independence, has always enjoyed political stability, except for a momentary period after the elections in May 1969. What we are now experiencing is unprecedented in the history of this nation.

The Malaysian Bar views with great concern, events over the past few days which have led to several members of Parliament leaving the Pakatan Harapan coalition. Rumours also abound as to attempts to form a new ruling coalition.

Pakatan Harapan came to power based on electoral support for their election manifesto, which highlighted the dire situation facing the nation due to the grave wrongdoings of the then ruling regime. It laid out a comprehensive manifesto which focused on democratic freedoms, taking a strong stance against corruption and assisting those in need.

If indeed the Pakatan Harapan has lost its majority, then efforts need to be made to ascertain who is now able to command the confidence of the majority in the Dewan Rakyat, to be appointed the prime minister.

In this regard, we echo the advice of the Attorney General Tommy Thomas – the government’s chief legal adviser – that the way forward is to have this matter determined by the Dewan Rakyat when it reconvenes on 10 March. At that point, a vote of confidence or otherwise could be taken and debated against the interim prime minister.

Further, we caution against the reliance on statutory declarations to determine the support of MPs since the authenticity of such declarations can be disputed.

Any attempt to form a new government through political horse trading must be avoided especially if it negates the aspirations of the electorate, as this would lead to unnecessary controversy and raise questions of legitimacy.

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Political stability is essential in these challenging economic times and we call on all parties to behave in a calm and mature manner, having due regard to our constitutional framework. The interest of the nation and its people should prevail over all other personal or partisan interests.

Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor is president of the Malaysian Bar

This piece dated 25 February 2019 is reproduced from here and has been edited for style only.

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