Tuesday, October 19

Former judge: Sultan has absolute power in appointing MB

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KUALA LUMPUR: The nomination of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to contest in the by-election for the Kajang state constituency has become a hot topic throughout the country.

The decision has created numerous perceptions to the extent that many are wondering whether Anwar is suitable as a candidate to take over as Selangor Menteri Besar.

A former judge of the Court of Appeals, Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah explained that the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has absolute power in deciding the appointment of an individual to be the state’s Menteri Besar.

He said the power is provided for in the Selangor State Constitution 1959 based on Article 51.

“The Sultan of Selangor has absolute power on two matters and can make a decision without any advice, that is, in the selection of the Menteri Besar and secondly, in the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly.

“In making a decision on these two matters, the Sultan does not have to act on the advice of anyone,” he told reporters at Menara Felda here, recently.

Mohd Noor explained that the Sultan is empowered to appoint any State Assemblyman whom he considers to have the confidence of the majority of the State Assembly, and the second condition is that the Menteri Besar appointed must be of the Malay race and a Muslim.

He disclosed this when referring to the Article 51 of the State Constitution based on Article 53 (2)(a); and Article 51 (2) subject to Article 53 (4) in

the Selangor State Constitution 1959.

“According to these provisions, the Ruler or Sultan however, could relax the condition according to his discretion to fulfill the first condition,” he said.

In other words, he said, the constitution provides that the power rested on the people in the democratic process where the Sultan is merely a constitutional ruler and has the power to appoint the Menteri Besar based on the law specified.

However, he said, the Sultan could not choose anyone he liked to become the Menteri Besar because this could be interpreted as interfering in the political affairs of the state.

“In the case of Selangor, two parties namely PAS and PKR can nominate the name of an appropriate candidate and if this is rejected, they must nominate another name,” he said.

However, Mohd Noor said the candidate nominated must be from the party that had won the election and in the situation in Selangor, for example, the Sultan of Selangor could determine whether the candidate is a PAS or PKR leader.

He said the Sultan had no power to delay the appointment.

“However, as an example, if representative A garners the majority vote, but representative B is the Sultan’s choice, then the party can decide who becomes the Menteri Besar through the lobbying process between one another.

“So, when representative B is elected, the representative B will meet the Sultan to seek his consent.

“This means that the party gives in to the wishes of the Sultan. But if the party insists on the decision of the majority to choose representative A, then the Sultan cannot appoint B. This is because if B is appointed and later receives a vote of no confidence, he will eventually be removed,” he explained.

Under the present situation, Mohd Noor said the Selangor State Assembly had already sat and if Anwar were to win the by-election, a motion could be made in the State Assembly, he would be nominated as the Menteri Besar.

“The current Menteri Besar (Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim) becomes the MB at the pleasure of the Sultan for five years. If he wants to step down before the five-year period, he could present his letter of resignation to the Sultan.

“If he doesn’t want to resign, then a vote of no confidence on the Menteri Besar could be passed and if the motion is passed, he loses.

“Then, he will have to vacate his post,” he explained.

After appointing the Menteri Besar, the Sultan is also empowered to appoint the State Government Executive Councillors based on the nominations by the Menteri Besar.

Based on the law and Federal Constitution, Mohd Noor said the criteria for a candidate to stand for state election is that he or she must be a Malaysian national, his home address must be in the state he wished to contest in, aged above 21, has a sound mind, not a bankrupt and had never been jailed for more than one year (but he can contest after the expiry of the jail term).

“The home address of the candidate in his identity card must be in the state he is contesting, for example in the vacancy in the Kajang state constituency.

“Any candidate wishing to contest must have a Selangor address. But the law does not state how long the candidate must reside in Selangor,” he said.

The by-election is to be held following the move by the Kajang State Assemblyman, Lee Chin Cheh, from the PKR, who vacated his seat last Monday.

To a question whether Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be allowed to contest the by-election if the government wins the appeal for the sodomy case against him, Mohd Noor said it would not because the Opposition Leader could still appeal in the Federal Court.

“(However), anyone who is eventually convicted by the Federal Court for a serious offence, and the charge is a serious offence, then his political or professional career would end,” he said.

On Aug 7, 2008 Anwar was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court for sodomising his personal assistant Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan at the Desa Damansara condominium, Bukit Damansara.

However, on Jan 9, 2012, the Kuala Lumpur High Court found Anwar not guilty and acquitted and discharged him on grounds that there was no evidence to support the victim’s testimony.

On Jan 20, 2012, the

Attorney-General’s Chambers filed an appeal on the decision of the High Court and the appeal would be heard on Feb 12 and 13 at the Court of Appeal. — Bernama