By The Star
The government’s defeat in a motion in Parliament does not have any implication on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s leadership as it is common knowledge that the government only has a slim majority, say political analysts.
Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR), said the failed Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) motion may, however, have implications on the position of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.
Azmi said most of the 50 MPs who weren’t present in Parliament during the voting process yesterday were government backbenchers.
Azmi also said that the government will not have to resign – in line with Parliamentary democracy conventions – because the motion was not a Supply Bill or a Federal Budget.
By convention, if a Federal Budget or a Supply Bill fails to be passed, it would mean that the government of the day has lost its majority and could pave the way for the dissolution of Parliament.
“It’s sad for the police, but it does not reflect on Ismail Sabri’s leadership. So, I don’t think the government should resign,” said Azmi.
“I think this will curtail the powers of the police and it’s a sad thing that such an important tool is taken away from the police,” he said.
“When you deal with terrorism, you cannot wait until it happens. You must act before it happens.”
Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, also said that the failed vote in Parliament yesterday simply showed that the government’s parliamentary whip had been negligent in his duties.
“Intentionally or not, (the parliament chief) did not marshal enough government MPs to pass the Bill,” he said.
Oh also said that the government does not have to resign as this was not a Supply Bill or a Federal Budget.
However, he added: “It is simply another nail on this government’s tightening political coffin.”
Andrew Khoo, co-chair of the Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee, said the government could table the motion in Parliament again.
“It is possible the government may still try to introduce a shorter period of detention, perhaps 21, 14, or seven days,” he added.
Constitutional lawyer New Sin Yew said existing police powers are wide enough to address terrorism and that SOSMA was not necessary.
“It is disproportionate and draconian, and I am glad Parliament voted against extending it.
“This means police can only detain a person under section 4(1) of SOSMA for a maximum of 24 hours without any power to extend the detention,” he added.