Experts: It is the King’s prerogative


  • Nation
  • Friday, 25 Sep 2020

PETALING JAYA: Any party may claim that they have the majority support of parliamentarians to form the government, but experts have cautioned that the prerogative to decide on this rests solely with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Constitutional expert Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi (pic) said that there was no automatic assumption of helming the prime minister’s post by gaining a majority of Members of Parliament, even if the “majority is a fact”.

“The Prime Minister must be appointed formally by the King. While the King’s discretion is not unlimited, he does have some judgment calls.

“Has the incumbent lost his majority? Was this on the floor or outside the Dewan Rakyat?

“After the 2009 precedent, the King can take note of factors or facts outside the House, ” he said, referring to the case of then Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

On Wednesday, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that he had a “strong, formidable majority” to form the new Federal Government.

Anwar also declared that with the “clear and indisputable support”, the government led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had fallen.

The Port Dickson MP however said he would first like to have an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

As of press time, there has been no official word that the King has been discharged from the National Heart Institute.

Dr Shad said even if there is a loss in majority, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had several choices because the loss of majority by one person did not necessarily mean a gain in majority by the Opposition leader as there may be leadership disputes.

He said the incumbent Prime Minister may advise dissolution and the King “may accept or reject”.

“If the King refuses dissolution, it is in his good judgment to determine who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members, ” said Dr Shad.

Universiti Sains Malaysia Assoc Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said it was the prerogative of the King to declare if the Prime Minister had lost the confidence of the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.

“The King can also appoint the Prime Minister or go for elections. Legally, Anwar cannot declare the Prime Minister has lost the support of the majority, ” he said.

Dr Sivamurugan said Anwar could have proposed a vote of no confidence against Muhyiddin during the last Dewan Rakyat meeting in July.

If the premier did not have the majority, then he would have resigned or advised the King to dissolve Parliament to pave way for fresh elections, he said.

“If he has the numbers, he should meet the Prime Minister to inform him that he has lost support. The premier can then meet the King, either to resign or to advise him to dissolve parliament, ” he said.

He also said that instead of making a

declaration outside the Dewan Rakyat, Anwar could have asked the Speaker for a special sitting to show that the Prime Minister had lost the majority.

“However, such a request could also be rejected by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker if he feels it is not convincing, ” said Dr Sivamurugan.

International Islamic University Malaysia legal adviser Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said the matter must be referred to the King.

“It is the King who has to determine whether this is the case or otherwise. At the same time, the Prime Minister still has the right to show that he has the majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

“There is nothing solid to show that the Prime Minister has lost the confidence of the majority, ” he said.

Dr Muhammad Fathi Yusof, a constitutional expert and senior lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, questioned Anwar’s announcement.

“To me, it is not right. The freedom to express should not be misused to confuse the rakyat and the country.

“If the statement was done without strong evidence, then it is a form of fake news that can affect the nation’s harmony, especially if such statement involves the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, ” he said in a statement.

“There are a few ways to prove that the Prime Minister has lost majority support, although the Federal Constitution does not have a detailed explanation on it, ” he said.

Some of the methods include a motion of no confidence, a defeat of a monetary bill, submitting a full list of at least 112 MPs who have lost confidence, among others.

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