Friday, June 20, 2008

SAPP's no confidence motion, a second political tsunami?

by Lim Kit Siang

Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) has dropped a bombshell when its president Yong Teck Lee announced that its two MPs, Dr. Chua Soon Bui (Tawau) and Eric Majimbun (Sepanggar) would move a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when Parliament resumes on Monday.

But will be bombshell land in Parliament on Monday?

With the ruling coalition commanding unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 11 general elections since Merdeka in 1957 until the recent political tsunami of the March 2008 general election, there had never been any no confidence motion against the Prime Minister in Malaysian parliamentary history.

The Parliamentary Standing Orders do not have special provision for a no confidence motion.

In the circumstances, a no confidence motion may be regarded as an ordinary motion under Standing Order 27 which requires notice of 14 days to be given ? making it impossible for such a no confidence motion to be tabled on Monday, June 23, 2008 as the earliest would be July 2 if the no confidence motion is submitted today.

Standing Order 18 which allows an MP to move a motion to adjourn the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance will be inappropriate and unhelpful as it only allows one hour debate on the specified issue without any vote being taken at the end of the debate.

The only way for a no confidence motion to be tabled and debated on Monday is for the Speaker ito treat it as a substantive and extraordinary motion which should take precedence and priority over all parliamentary business which does not need to comply with the requisite 14-day notice and publishing it as the first item of parliamentary business after Question Time in the Parliamentary Order of Business on Monday.

In doing so, however, the Speaker is likely be in direct loggerheads with the government of the day and must be prepared to pay the consequences of such decision.

I see little possibility of SAPP's No Confidence Motion against Abdullah as Prime Minister being tabled and debated on Monday unless there is a second political tsunami in the next few days, with waves of support from other Barisan Nasional MPs from Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia making it a credible parliamentary move.

Whether the SAPP no confidence motion is tabled and debated in Parliament on Monday, its very announcement has set off political waves in the country confirming the longstanding, widespread and deepseated discontent of the people of Sabah at their unfair treatment by Umno leaders, whether at Federal or State level.
Lim Kit Siang18th June 2008

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