The one-week postponement of Dewan Rakyat sittings is understandable with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob under Covid-19 quarantine, said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
However, the former finance minister maintained that a motion of confidence must be tabled in the lower house when it sits, warning that failure to do so would be unconstitutional and an act of defiance against the King.
In a statement, Lim also reminded Ismail not to repeat his predecessor Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s mistakes in refusing to table a motion of confidence quickly.
“It is clear that Parliament is postponed by one week to accommodate Ismail, who is under home quarantine after being in close contact with a Covid-19 positive patient.
“However, if there is no vote of confidence motion, what is the point or justification for the one-week postponement of Parliament? There is simply no alternative or compromise on holding a vote of confidence motion in Parliament, this must proceed.
“Ismail should not forget what happened to his predecessor who was seen in a similar light of open disobedience that evoked royal displeasure,” he said.
Lim said there is no reason for the new prime minister to put off the vote of confidence when he already had the support of 114 MPs.
He cautioned Ismail Sabri that failure to table the motion would only destroy the Umno vice-president’s credibility and integrity while giving rise to more political instability.
“For Ismail Sabri not to include the motion of vote of confidence in the Parliamentary agenda would be unconstitutional.
“This would seriously hamper Ismail Sabri’s ability as prime minister to lead the country as well as risk his reliability to fulfil his promise to carry out institutional reforms,” he said, adding that open defiance would be construed as wilful and recalcitrant disobedience to His Majesty.
Several MPs had earlier today shared on social media a notice from Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin informing them that the first meeting of the fourth session of the 14th Malaysian Parliament will be held on September 13 to October 12 and run for 17 days.
The session was postponed to accommodate Ismail who is undergoing home quarantine after having close contact with a Covid-19-positive individual.
Missing from the agenda, however, was a confidence motion to test his government’s legitimacy and majority.
On August 18, prior to the appointment of Ismail, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong said the new prime minister must undergo a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat to show he has majority support.
Last week, Ismail met with Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu and Lim to discuss measures to handle the epidemic and the welfare of the people.
PKR president Anwar said that PH will not “complicate matters” in a confidence motion if Ismail implements policies that address the needs of the people.
The Port Dickson MP said he assured Ismail that if the opposition’s suggestions were considered, they will not take issue with the current leadership and assured the prime minister that the political situation will be more stable.
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said he received an email from Nizam Mydin late last night about the date change.
“At 11.26pm, on the eve of Merdeka, Dewan Rakyat secretary sends an email informing that the Dewan Rakyat sitting that was supposed to start Sep 6 has been postponed to Sep 13,” the PKR communications director tweeted.
The change was corroborated by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii who posted a screenshot of the notice on his Twitter account, saying the sitting that was previously scheduled for September 6 has been postponed for another week.
“Don’t see any motion on confidence yet on the agenda,” the DAP man added.
Veteran DAP lawmaker Lim Kit Siang called the absence of a confidence motion on the parliamentary order of business “a glaring omission”.
“In view of the political and constitutional circumstances in the appointment of Ismail Sabri as the ninth Prime Minister of Malaysia, a confidence motion on the new Prime Minister should be the first item of parliamentary business,” the Iskandar Puteri MP said in a separate media statement this morning.
Some Opposition MPs have since been reviving calls for new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to table a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat when it resumes.