Lawyer challenges King's "no emergency proclamation" call

KUALA LUMPUR: A 53-year-old lawyer is challenging the decision by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to not declare a state of emergency in the country despite the Prime Minister's advice.

Dr Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar filed the originating summons through Messrs R. Kengadharan & Co here on Friday, named the Government as the sole defendant.

In his originating summons, Syed Iskandar wants the court to answer two legal questions of constitutional and public importance, including whether the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has "unfettered discretion" not to declare an emergency despite advice of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.

In his supporting affidavit, the plaintiff said the Prime Minister had advised the Ruler on Oct 23 to issue a proclamation of emergency pursuant to Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.

"Such advice had been agreed upon by the Federal Cabinet through a special Cabinet meeting.

"Two days later, on Oct 25, after the Conference of Rulers, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong expressed His Majesty's opinion that a proclamation of emergency in the country or any part of the country was not necessary.

"This amounts to a rejection of the prime minister's advice," he said.

In declining to act upon the Prime Minister's or the Cabinet's advice, Syed Iskandar claimed the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had exercised his functions in a manner inconsistent with Articles 40 and 150 of the Federal Constitution.

Article 40 refers to the King's exercise of functions under the Constitution, where he is to act upon advice, while Article 150 is on the proclamation of emergency.

"I verily believe that a determination of the said questions by this court is important for the vindication of the rule of law and for the purpose of upholding the Constitution," Syed Iskandar said.

On Oct 25, the Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara, Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, issued a statement that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had decided there was no need to declare a state of emergency in the country.

He said that Al-Sultan Abdullah and the Malay rulers had gone through the proposal to declare a state of emergency and felt that the government had managed to contain the pandemic effectively.

On Oct 23, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin requested the proclamation of emergency under Article 150(1) and proclamation of Emergency (Essential Powers 2020) Ordinance pursuant to Article 150 (2B) of the Federal Constitution to combat the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

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