Withdrawing Bills

Entrance to the Senate
Entrance to the Senate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the news report that said inter alia “The Election Offences Amendment Bill passed in Parliament in April will be withdrawn after meeting with resistance from lawmakers on both sides of the political divide.”

This interested me as a Law student because I was interested in figuring out the mechanism in which a Law that has been passed by the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) is to be aborted. I already know from class that the Dewan Negara (Senate) has very limited powers in rejecting or vetoing bills originating from the lower house.

Article 68 of the Consti is very clear about the types of bills that can be vetoed by the Senate (essentially, amendments to the Consti) and the types of bills that do not even need Senate approval (essentially, money bills). For everything else, the default power that the Senate has is only in delaying the bill by suggesting amendments for consideration, which can incidentally be ignored by the lower house.

Accordingly, the Senate has absolutely no powers to reject the amendments to the Election Offences Amendment Bill. The question the becomes, how does our government plan to withdraw the bill?

The news article is light on details but our Consti very clearly states in Article 66(3) that:

When a Bill has been passed by the House in which it originated it shall be sent to the other House; and it shall be presented to the YDPA for his asssent when it has been passed by the other House…

Oh my goodness.

Any law student can tell you what shall means in the Law. It means that there is no choice or discretion allowed. The Bill must be introduced to the other House. Once introduced in the other House, they’re then bound by A.68 and they will not have the power to destroy the Bill, but merely to delay it.

So, I’m not sure how our de-facto Law Minister plans to work around the Consti by aborting the process. I hope to be schooled in how such a thing can possibly happen within the confines of our dearest Consti.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am totally opposed to the matters being introduced by the amendment bill. But the proper way to do it would be to send the bill to the Senate, have them disagree to it, then it will be sent back to the lower house, where it will be directed to be not sent to the YDPA for his assent.