Warisan to push for reinstatement of ‘anti power grab’ clause in state assembly

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan will submit a private member's bill to reinstate the "anti-power grab" clause in the Sabah Constitution, its supreme council member Chen Ket Chuin said.

He said the party hopes to get the Sabah Legislative Assembly to reinstate Clause 6(7) which was controversially repealed by the state government last year.

Chen said it was time to bring back Clause (7) as it was introduced in the late 1980s by the then Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government as a guide for the Governor to appoint the leader of a majority party to be Chief Minister.

The clause was put in place to guide the Governor to avoid power grabs by losing a party that was seen after the state election in 1985 where PBS won a simple majority of 25 of the 48 seats in assembly.

However, losing Usno then led by the late Tun Mustapha Harun was sworn in as Chief Minister with 16 seats with the support of six Parti Berjaya assemblymen. It was justified that six nominated assemblymen would give him 28 seats.

PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan was subsequently sworn in within 24 hours of the incident known as the midnight "coup." Mustapha's appointment was subsequently revoked and he later lost his challenge in court.

Chen said currently under the Constitution, the Governor has to rely only on Clause 6(3) which only provides for the Governor to appoint a Chief Minister who in his judgement was likely to command the majority in the Assembly.

Clause 6 (7) was a clear guide for the Governor and was to avoid power grabs as happened in 1985, he said, adding that the six nominated assemblymen cannot be used to claim majority after the election.

"Clearly, with the provision of the now deleted Article 6(7), the legislative members are stopped from using the six nominated assemblymen to claim a majority. Article 6(7) has served Sabah well since then," he added.

Noting that state-appointed lawyer Tengku Fuad Ahmad had been defending the deletion of 6(7), Chen said that the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government must reconsider its decision to delete Article 6 (7).

"Fuad’s advice on the repeal of Article 6(7) of the Sabah Constitution is wrong," Chen said, drawing his concern over the latest development over the counsel's role in the state decisions.

Chen noted that on May 24, State Attorney General Nor Asiah Mohd Yacob disclosed that Fuad was no longer acting for the government on the Sabah Law Society (SLS) judicial review on the 40% revenue case.

The state also expunged all submissions made by Fuad at the Court of Appeal hearing of the case on May 16.

"With the repeal of Article 6(7) and without any reinstatement, the leader of a political party which has only won one seat in a coalition can be appointed as the Chief Minister against the mandate of the people in Sabah.

"If this happens, it is not hard to imagine many political parties with more than one elected member will be going to Court to determine who should be the rightful Chief Minister. It will be political mayhem," he added.

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