UMNO Vice President and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday that former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had not betrayed UMNO by calling on the Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step down as Prime Minister and the voters of Pekan to vote out Najib in Pekan.
Hishammuddin said: “In terms of the party, it is not a betrayal. (But) it should not go on and should not be entertained as it could break the party apart.”
Hishammuddin said such attacks could damage the party but so far, no damage has been done.
With Hishammuddin clarification, UMNO/BN MPs do not have to feel as if they are traitors to the nation or party if they are inclined to the position that Najib should not continue as Prime Ministere and want to discuss with the Opposition the proposal of no confidence motion against Najib as PM.
The Australian Parliament last month provided a lesson on parliamentary democracy to Malaysian MPs when the Australian Government experienced a dramatic leadership change in a matter of hours, resulting in Malcolm Turnbull becoming Australia’s 29th Prime Minister replacing Tony Abbot.
During question time on Monday, 14th September 2015, Turnball paid a visit to Abbot requesting a leadership ballot on Tuesday morning, but Abbot decided on a leadership ballot the same night, which was won by Turnbull in a 54-44 vote among the Liberal Parliamentarians.
Although the political system in Malaysia is not the same as the Australian one, the question is whether the 54 Liberal MPs who voted for a change of Australian Prime Minister could have been suspended or sacked from the ruling party by Abbot to forestall any majority win by Turnbull?
This was why two days ago, I posed the question whether any UMNO/BN leader and MP who support the call by Mahathir (and now supported by Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik, former and longest serving MCA President) for Najib to step down as Prime Minister, and expresses his or her stand in public, would be liable to party discipline, whether suspension or expulsion?
From Hishammudin’s clarification, there is some maturity in the UMNO leadership as to what is breach of party discipline and liability to disciplinary action as far as the views and position of UMNO/BN MPs on the question of no-confidence motion in Najib as Prime Minister.
I presume that it would be a breach of party discipline rendering one liable to disciplinary action, whether suspension or expulsion, for any UMNO/BN MP to support any PR leader, for instance the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizan Wan Ismail, as Prime Minister-candidate but not in the case of support of a no-confidence motion against Najib where the successor-Prime Minister would be from UMNO.
Malaysian MPs, whether from BN or Pakatan Harapan, are in uncharted waters as far as no-confidence motion against the incumbent Prime Minister is concerned, and Hishammuddin’s clarification would be useful in guiding MPs in their response to any such no-confidence motion in the upcoming Parliamentary meeting.
There is then no need for UMNO/BN to scurry away from Pakatan Harapan MPs for fear that they might be misconstrued as discussing the “taboo” subject of no-confidence motion against Najib with Pakatan Harapan MPs and be subject to party discipline or censure.
From Hishammuddin’s clarification, the UMNO “Magnificent 7” who are currently in the party “crosshair” and subject of investigation for disciplinary action, as revealed by the UMNO Secretary-General Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor two days ago, could not be related to any “no confidence” motion against Najib in the forthcoming meeting of Parliament.
Whether there should be a motion of no confidence against Najib as Prime Minister in the six-week Parliamentary meeting from Oct. 19 to Dec.3 should be discussed from all angles by the Pakatan Harapan parliamentary team, which should also come out with a common strategy on the historic statement by the Conference of Rulers yesterday placing the three issues of 1MDB, rule of law and national unity squarely at the centre of the national agenda.