Constitutional 'guide' for Governor to appoint CM must be in place before 2025, says Sabah Law Society

Sabah Law Society president Roger Chin.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Constitution should have provisions in place before the 2025 state election to "guide" the Governor in appointing a chief minister, says the Sabah Law Society.

The call comes after Article 6(7) of the Sabah Constitution was repealed on May 25.

Article 6(7), which was added to the state Constitution in 1990, formed a guide for the Governor to pick the leader of the winning party to be chief minister to avoid losing parties from grabbing power.

"As the state election is coming up within two years, it would be prudent to include a clear definition in the state Constitution," Sabah Law Society president Roger Chin said on Monday (June 5).

He said Article 6(3) gives the Governor discretionary powers on "who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of a majority of the members of the Assembly."

"This is very discretionary. This discretion should be fettered to ensure transparency and certainty in such appointments," he added.

The deletion of Article 6(7) was tabled together with Anti-Party Hopping law by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

However, those in legal circles argue that the Governor is now not bound to appoint the leader of the political party who won the majority of the seats in an election.

They felt that the Governor's discretion was "very wide and open" now and was no longer limited by the repeal of Article 6(7).

During the 1985 state election, Parti Bersatu Sabah led by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan won 25 out of the 48 state seats.

However, in a power grab, Usno president Tun Mustapha Harun, whose party won 16 seats, teamed up with Berjaya (with six seats) to get himself sworn in as chief minister.

They then used six nominated assemblymen to claim a 26-seat simple majority to get the then Governor to swear him in.

However, then acting prime minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam intervened, saying that the democratic process must be observed.

Pairin was subsequently sworn in and PBS introduced Article 6(7) to stop such power grabs.

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