Thursday, October 21, 2021

Ex-AG latest to say govt not bound by rulers’ call

Mohamed Apandi Ali says the Agong is constitutionally bound to follow the counsel of the prime minister.

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Former attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali today said that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is constitutionally bound to follow the counsel of the prime minister, the latest in a series of current and former senior judicial officers to give their views on the current debate in the aftermath of the Malay rulers’ meeting last week.

Apandi, who served as AG under the Najib Razak administration, said Article 40 of the Federal Constitution was explicit in spelling out this responsibility on the part of the Agong.

“This is very much in line with the principle of constitutional monarchy. Furthermore, all parties including the rulers and the people must obey and respect the provisions enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“This is because the constitution is the supreme law of the land,” he said, in response to an explanation by former chief justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad and senior law lecturer Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz, dismissing calls by some politicians for the government to heed the rulers’ recent call for Parliament to re-convene as well as to end the virus emergency.

Their views echoed those of former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram, who said the Agong had no independent discretion except in three matters: the appointment of the prime minister, the dissolution of Parliament, and requests for a meeting of the Conference of Rulers, which are clearly spelt out in Article 40 of the Federal Constitution.

Last week, two statements by Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and the Conference of Rulers respectively had urged the government to convene Dewan Rakyat proceedings as soon as possible, triggering a wave of calls from opposition politicians for Putrajaya to respect the royal decree.

Both Pakatan Harapan politicians and Umno have warned Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that failure to heed the royal call would be tantamount to disrespect of the Malay rulers.

Apandi meanwhile said the Agong had the right to seek the views of other parties, adding that this was served through the 19-member emergency committee led by former chief justice Arifin Zakaria.

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