Azalina: Prioritise confidence motion over govt business

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Putrajaya must give priority to any motion of confidence that is brought before Parliament as part of its reform for the lower house, said Azalina Othman Said.

The former deputy speaker said under the current arrangement in Parliament, priority is given to the business of government and that is why all other matters are relegated to the bottom of the order paper.

The Pengerang MP said that since the prime minister is appointed by majority support, he should therefore be subject to a vote of confidence when the members of Parliament are of the opinion that he has failed in his function.

“I know many people will not like it, but you cannot deny that in Malaysia we do not vote directly for the country’s leadership, unlike the (US) presidential system,” she said at a virtual forum organised by Asli and the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on South East Asia.

“There must be a right to hire and a right to fire. The process of accountability means I (as an MP) can question, challenge and dismiss you,” she said, adding that this is a legitimate instrument for MPs to play their role.

Azalina qualified that this was her personal opinion.

In October last year, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said government business takes precedence over private members’ bills after Gua Musang MP Razaleigh Hamzah urged him to allow a motion of no-confidence against former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Azhar had said Rule 15 of Parliament’s Standing Orders states that government business was to be prioritised above all other matters.

At the forum this morning, Azalina also revealed her “wish list” for parliamentary reform which highlighted seven issues.

Other than prioritising a confidence motion, she said the eligibility criteria for the speaker of the house must be reviewed to ensure there is no bias.

Azalina, who resigned on August 23, cited her role as an Umno supreme council member as one of the reasons behind her decision, saying that it may be construed as biased.

She also asked for the setting up of more parliamentary special select committees to audit policies made by the government and asked the government to loop in lawmakers in the consultative process of legislation instead of the tail end when the bill is tabled or debated upon.

Azalina also recommended that Parliament’s capacity must be strengthened and expanded with separate parliamentary services so that the institution is not run like a government agency.

Her other suggestions include implementing avenues for private MPs to initiate private members bills and to transfer the prime minister’s and speaker’s vast agenda-setting power via House and Business Committee with proportional representation of all parties.

“This will ensure that Parliament can achieve multi-partisan collaboration and make way for the professionalisation of politics and politicians,” she said.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and opposition pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) agreed to work together to strengthen the parliamentary institution and for the executive to function transparently to effectively serve the people.

Ismail, in a joint statement with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, said during their hour-long meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya, they discussed the agenda to ensure the people’s well-being.

They said they have also agreed to strengthen the functions of Parliament to become a responsible and constructive institution and to provide checks and balances on the executive to be more transparent and ensure the needs of the people are taken care of.

They also agreed on the importance of judiciary independence and institutional reforms. – TMI