Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 22nd March 2009:
Parliament should be extended for another week or a special sitting should be held in April to debate confidence motion on the new Prime Minister
The countdown has been reduced to four days for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be anointed as UMNO President in the UMNO General Assembly, as he has been nominated uncontested for the top Umno post.
The countdown for his ascension as the sixth Prime Minister will be slightly longer as guestimates are that the Prime Ministerial hand-over will take place either on April 2 or 3.
Except that there is growing and unprecedented nation-wide disquiet and even dismay that Najib would become the next Prime Minister despite the many unresolved allegations hounding and haunting him raising serious questions about his fitness, integrity and legitimacy to occupy the highest political office of the land, to the extent that it had found expression in the public domain by concerned and patriotic Malaysians – a completely new political phenomenon in the nation’s 52-year history as this had never happened before during the tenure of the first five Prime Ministers of Malaysia about their ordained successors.
The latest voice to join the increasing chorus of doubters, sceptics and cynics about the propriety, suitability and legitimacy for Najib to become the next Prime Minister is none other than Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who, when asked in a Malaysiakini interview about the recent call by the former Law Minister, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, that the Yang di Pertuan Agong should reject Najib if Umno puts him forward as Prime Minister to replace Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said “it is possible for the Yang di Pertuan Agong may not appoint Najib as Prime Minister despite being Umno president”.
Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution provides that the Yang di Pertuan Agong shall appoint a Prime Minister “who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence” of the Dewan Rakyat.
I agree with Tengku Razaleigh that there is nothing in the Malaysian Constitution that binds the Yang di Pertuan Agong to appoint Najib as the next Prime Minister just because he is the Umno President, as the critical issue is the ability to “command the confidence of the Dewan Rakyat”.
For this reason, the Dewan Rakyat should be extended for another week or a special sitting should be held in April to debate a confidence motion on the new Prime Minister.
There is a precedent for this as three decades ago, when the second Prime Minister, Tun Razak died of leukaemia in London on January 14, 1976 and Tun Hussein Onn was sworn in as his successor.
The first thing Tun Hussein did was to convene a special sitting of Parliament in less than a fortnight on January 27, 1976 which adopted a motion of confidence in the third Prime Minister.
For the past 51 years, the first meeting of Parliament every year, which would be declared open by the Yang di Pertuan Agong, would be in March or April going often into May, but this year, it was brought forward to February – to suit the convenience of the UMNO General Assembly and the power transition next week.
If the traditional parliamentary time-table had not been interfered or trifled with, Parliament would currently be in session till next month or even May, and a confidence motion for a new Prime Minister would be an appropriate subject of current parliamentary agenda.
I therefore call for the present meeting of Parliament to be extended for another week or a special sitting should be held in April to debate a confidence motion on the new Prime Minister.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor