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Why is Muhyiddin avoiding Parliament?

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It is time for the PM to test his support among the MPs in an urgent parliamentary sitting, writes Ronald Benjamin.

One of the factors behind an enduring stability that comes from democratic governance is the ability of the prime minister to command the support of the majority in Parliament.

Such stability would translate into confidence among investors and the international community on the government’s ability to preserve continuity or to change the current economic policies, besides commitment to international treaties.

Such confidence of stability is not forthcoming from the newly appointed Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, who has deliberately avoided a confidence vote in Parliament. Media reports indicate the next parliamentary sitting has been postponed from 9 March to 18 May.

This suggests a “backdoor government” that lacks the foundational principles of stability due to the circumstances of its formation, which resembled a game of thrones, a number games that does not stand the scrutiny of principles.

If the composition of the cabinet does not meet certain demands and allow leverage for certain parties like Umno and Pas, it would ultimately scuttle the whole Perikatan Nasional coalition.  A general election could be called – which would benefit Umno and Pas. The new PM should be aware of these challenges.

Political stability rests on a confident relationship between Parliament and government. Take look at other countries such the UK, where the government must be able to command the confidence of the House of Commons. This convention governs both the appointment and resignation of prime ministers.

As a recent Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Report put it: The fact that the government of the day must retain the confidence of the House of Commons is the constitutional principle which determines the relationship between parliament and government. The government’s authority to govern is dependent on maintaining the confidence of the House of Commons. This principle remains fundamental to the system of parliamentary democracy.  The committee echoed the cabinet manual, which states that the ability of a government to command the confidence of the elected House of Commons is central to its authority to govern. It is tested by votes on a motion of confidence or no confidence.

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This assertion is in line with our own Malaysian parliamentary system of governance that gives legitimacy to the government in power.

Therefore, it is time that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin initiates an emergency parliamentary sitting to test his support among the MPs. It will project integrity and transparency of the coalition besides cementing a relationship between the government and Parliament.

If the parliamentary sitting continues to be delayed, the PM would be placing the nation in ambiguity. This would result in a lack of confidence among the rakyat besides affecting the confidence of investors during these current depressing economic conditions.

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