13 Aug 2021 (PN)
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that two Bills will be tabled in Parliament should the government manage to get more than two-thirds bipartisan support from the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara. The two Bills are:
- The Constitutional Amendment Bill
- Anti-Party Hopping Bill.
The former Bill will reduce the tenure of the Prime Minister by introducing a two-term limit.
Muhyiddin also stated that the government will ensure a more balanced parliamentary select committee, that is, ensuring 50 percent of the select committees will be represented by MPs from the ruling coalition, while the remaining 50 percent, by the Opposition MPs.
While these proposals are positive, it is important to remember what each coalition stood for in the past few years in order to grasp the intention behind these proposals.
In 2019, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government tabled this exact two-term limit aimed at preventing potential abuses of power. It was a key promise in PH’s manifesto.
More importantly, in 2020, this very Bill tabled by the PH government to limit premiership was withdrawn by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government shortly after PN, led by Muhyiddin, became the ruling party and government.
The de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan retracted the Bill from the Dewan Rakyat, saying that PN had no intention to push for it.
In 2021, hundreds of Malaysians gathered in the #Lawan protest, demanding the resignation of Muhyiddin. This was shortly followed by Muhyiddin’s aforementioned announcement that the two Bills will be tabled in Parliament.
The proposal raises eyebrows as the PN government has been very clear that they had no intention to push for the Constitutional Amendment Bill.
It is only at a time of political upheaval and of critical political accountability, that statements such as tabling Bills, even those which the party themselves withdrew in the past were made.
This questions the true substance of these proposals – whether they were truly made as reforms or merely to mitigate and manage the political crisis.
The public is encouraged to continue to be informed about the tabling and progress of these Bills, which can make clear the intention of the parties involved.
But more importantly, they are critical laws central to the spirit of Parliamentary democracy.