Muhyiddin cannot dictate the whole order of business of the Dewan Rakyat on 18th May

Posted on May 14, 2020


IMG-20191109-WA0061 edJust after 4pm yesterday, The Malay Mail reported this most bizarre news : the 18th May Dewan Rakyat sitting, the first since the collapse of the PH government and Muhyiddin’s ascension to the position of prime minister had only one order of business : the Agong’s royal address.

The nation is facing a pandemic such as has never been seen before, has been under total lockdown from 18th March until 3rd May during which time, according to Muhyiddin, the financial loss to the nation was about RM2.4 billion a day, under a conditional MCO since 4th May and will continue until 9th June, and public funds running into the billions of ringgit have been rolled out, without any real oversight.

That same Malay Mail report also has it that on 28th March, Muhyiddin had pledged that all government spending during this Covid-19 pandemic would go before the Dewan Rakyat for scrutiny.

Against this backdrop, the Dewan Rakyat will convene next Monday, to receive the Royal opening address.

And then close!

No disrespect intended to any quarters, but why, then, even bother to convene?


Based on this press statement released by the Speaker to announce this latest development, note the following :

Ariff received a letter from Muhyiddin in his capacity as leader of the Dewan wherein the latter informed the former that, on account of the Covid-19 pandemic that was not as yet fully contained, the GOVERNMENT HAD DECIDED that :

  • the first sitting of the third session of the 14th parliament would be for only one day, on 18th May
  • the order of business on that day will have only one matter, that is the royal address of the Agong; and
  • there will be no further sitting on that day after the royal address has been delivered.

Ariff also states his view that these “amendments” accord with Standing Orders 11(2) and 15(2) of the Dewan Rakyat.

For some time now, the 18th May sitting had already been announced to be for just a day. This was, in my view, merely a restatement of that which had been already decided and announced earlier, and not an “amendment” pursuant to Standing Order 11(2), as stated by Ariff.

On 3rd May, Malaysiakini reported Takiyuddin, citing the Covid-19 excuse, as saying that “it is appropriate to maintain the one-day Parliament sitting scheduled on May 18”.

Had there been, prior to yesterday, any announcement of the business to be conducted in the sitting of the Dewan Rakyat on 18th May?

There was.

By Takiyuddin, on 8th May.

Before that, though, on the same day, Ariff announced that he had accepted Dr M’s motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin.


Dr M’s Notice of Motion of No Confidence


After the news that Aiff had accepted Dr M’s motion of no confidence, that same day, during a press conference, Takiyuddin announced the order of business for the sitting on 18th May.

I am going to quote extensively from the Malaysiakini report of that press conference.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong will officiate the sitting. After that, the House will sit to settle government matters and government business only. And it will adjourn. Government matters will be prioritised. The government has several matters like motions and bills”, Takiyuddin is quoted.

He is also reported to have said that the government would table four motions – to declare Port Dickson MP Anwar Ibrahim as opposition leader; to appoint an opposition MP to lead the Public Accounts Committee; to postpone debates over the Agong’s address and to appoint a selection committee and table two bills for first reading – the Supplementary Supply (2019) Bill and Supplementary Supply (2020) Bill.

As for motions from other MPs, Takiyuddin said this was up to the Speaker.

“If they are accepted for this sitting and allowed to be debated, they will be debated”.

Basically, what Takiyuddin had, on 8th May, laid out here was the government business to be transacted at the sitting on 18th May.

Given that Ariff treated Muhyiddin’s communication of the royal address as the only business for the 18th May sitting as an amendment under Standing Order 15(2), it is fair to assume that the business that Takiyuddin spoke of earlier had been formally notified to the secretary of the Dewan earlier.

Hence Ariff’s treatment of this notification by Muhyiddin as an amendment.

Could the government, by this letter from the leader of the Dewan to Ariff, amend any prior notice to the secretary, to now remove from the order of business for the 18th May sitting, all the government business spoken of by Takiyuddin, as mentioned above?

I believe the government can, pursuant to Standing Order 15(2), as cited by Ariff.

S.O 15(2) :  Government business shall be set down in such order as the Government thinks fit and communicate to the Setiausaha.

Could the government, through this same letter, restrict proceedings in the 18th May sitting, to only the royal address?

With respect to the Speaker, I believe this cannot be done.

Standing Order 14(1) provides that unless the Dewan directs otherwise, the
business of each sitting shall be transacted in the order laid out in that Order.

18 transactions are listed, from (a) – (q) [ there’s a (fa) somewhere in the middle ]

SO 14

Transactions (a) – (l), (p) and (q), in my view, are not government business and, as such, cannot, by that letter from Muhyiddin to Ariff and pursuant to S.O 15(2), be “amended” or taken  out of the order of business, as set out in S.O. 14(1), for the sitting on 18th May.

On 8th May, Takiyuddin announced a pack government business agenda for the 18th May sitting.

About 96 hours later, that went to zero government business.


I believe transaction (h) under S.O 14(1) might offer a clue.

(h) Motion on matters of urgent public importance.

In the order laid out, if there was such a matter of urgent public importance, it would precede government business as listed in (m), (n) and possibly (o).

What was it Takiyuddin said at that press conference, in relation to any motions from other MPs?

“If they are accepted for this sitting and allowed to be debated, they will be debated”.

Is the fear, then, that the Speaker might deem Dr M’s motion a matter of urgent public importance?

And is this fear why, next Monday, we, the rakyat, must painfully watch as our Dewan and the nation sinks to a new all-time low?