Malaysian Bar calls for all parties to abide by constitutional framework amid political impasse

Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir.. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir.. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — The Malaysian Bar has today called upon all parties to act with due regard to Malaysia’s constitutional framework following the recent political upheaval.

President Salim Bashir said the Bar was perturbed by the political turmoil and constitutional gridlock amid the Covid-19 pandemic over the past few weeks.

“In light of the current political upheaval, the Malaysian Bar calls on all parties to have due regard to the constitutional framework of our country, and most importantly, the welfare and well-being of the people should remain as the priority in everyone’s minds,” he said in a statement here.

Last month, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who leads the Pakatan Harapan coalition, claimed that he commanded the support of over 120 MPs in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat — enough to oust Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and bring about a change of government.

Muhyiddin’s majority has never been officially established but is placed at 113 lawmakers or just over the absolute minimum of 112 needed for a simple majority.

Touching on the constitutionality of the matter, Salim said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong “shall appoint as prime minister to preside over the Cabinet a member of the Dewan Rakyat or House of Representatives who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House.”

This is pursuant to Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution.

The Dewan Rakyat is scheduled to reconvene on November 2 with many anticipating a no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin.

On that matter, Salim said a prime minister confronted with a vote of no confidence has several options.

The first would be to counter the Opposition’s motion of no confidence by initiating his own motion of confidence to prove that he has support.

Alternatively, he could advise the King to consider Article 55(2) of the Constitution to prorogue or dissolve Parliament.

If the latter route is taken, Salim said the King has the discretion — as provided for under Article 40(2) of the Constitution — to agree or refuse to dissolve Parliament.

On October 16, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah told Malaysia’s warring politicians to abide by the Federal Constitution to settle their disputes.

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