Nizar against Zambry is not incompatible with parliamentary democracy

LETTER | I refer to the article by Syahredzan Johan Revisiting the case of Nizar v Zambry.

As the author has said, some may disagree with the Federal Court’s decision in Nizar v Zambry that the loss of confidence in Perak’s menteri besar can not only be established by a vote on it. state legislature, but also other foreign sources as long as they are properly established. These sources include statements made by members of the assembly that the MB no longer enjoys the support of the majority of the members of the House.

In this case, there was a demonstration of support from 31 members of the assembly for BN. This clearly indicated the loss of confidence of the majority of the members of the assembly in the leadership of the outgoing MB, even without a vote in the House.

Simply put, the issue of trust in the prime minister can be decided by means other than a vote of no confidence in Dewan Rakyat. Whether we like it or not, this is not incompatible with the principles of parliamentary democracy.

Governments in parliamentary democracies are not directly elected by the people but are formed with the support of Parliament. In other words, on the basis of parliamentary confidence (see Elliot W. Bulmer, Government formation and removal mechanisms [2017] available online).

In a parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister is not directly elected by the citizens but is normally appointed or appointed – as is the case in Malaysia – by the Head of State – the King of Malaysia. However, the head of state may not have much leeway in appointing a prime minister since the first principle of parliamentary democracy is that the government should be chosen on the basis of parliamentary confidence.

Confidence simply means support. According to Bulmer, a government is said to enjoy the confidence of parliament when a majority of MPs politically support the government and consent to its appointment and maintenance in office (my emphasis).

A formal expression of support and consent is the vote of confidence in Parliament. The informal expression must be the “other means” which can be gathered by “foreign sources, provided they are duly established”, as the Federal Court has said. In parliamentary democracies, government formations are intensely political as much as they are legal processes.

How true now that of Malaysia!

Until the Federal Constitution is amended, Malaysia will continue to be typical of parliamentary democracies where the democratic legitimacy of government depends on the support of parliamentarians – our “Yang Berhormats”.


The views expressed here are those of the author / contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Malaysiakini.


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