Friday, May 22, 2009

No laws exist to remove MBs, says Nizar's lawyers - The Malaysian Insider

PUTRAJAYA, May 21- Lawyers acting for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin today told the Court of Appeal there were no laws to remove any heads of government in Malaysia.

Sulaiman Abdullah said that even if a menteri besar chooses not to resign after losing the support of fellow lawmakers there was noting that could be done.

He said following arguments by lawyers representing Barisan Nasional (BN) MB Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir and the Attorney General would lead to more absurdity.
He said it would mean the King could tell the prime minister that he should step own because he had lost the confidence of members of parliament.

The grounds against removal, he said, were laid out in the Sarawak case of Stephen Kalong Ningkan v the Government of Malaysia 1968.

"The state constitution confers no power on the Governor to dismiss or by any means to enforce the resignation of a chief minister, even when it has been demonstrated that he has lost the confidence of the majority."

In his argument he described the situation as a serious lacuna or a grey area, adding that the matter had never been addressed.

In that case, Stephen Kalong was reappointed as Chief Minister in Sarawak.

However the federal Government imposed emergency rule and amended the state constitution to remove him.

However the amendments during the emergency rule were allowed to lapse after his removal.

Similarly the Perak Constitution does not confer power to dismiss the menteri besar.

There is also no discretion to appoint two people as menteri besar.

Sulaiman said the issue of whether a menteri besar had the support of his fellow lawmakers is not for either the people or ruler to decide but for the "elected pool" in the legislature.

Sulaiman argued that a menteri besar does not hold office at the pleasure of the ruler although he has absolute discretion to decide who should be menteri besar after an election.

He added a mentri besar could at any time seek the dissolution of a legislature and did not have to wait for the end of a five year term.

Ranjit Singh, who also acted for the PR man, told the court that Nizar's state of mind when he met the Perak Sultan to ask for the assembly to be dissolved was of great importance.

During the meeting on Feb 4 Nizar told the ruler the assembly was "deadlocked" with both BN and PR having 28 assemblymen, following the resignation of three independents.

He said Nizar never told the Sultan that he had lost the majority as claimed by the State Legal Advisor and the dissolution was sought under Article 36(2) of the Perak constitution.

Article 32(2) is a general provision for dissolutions which was also written in a draft proclamation which the ruler refused to sign.

This counters arguments by Zambry's lawyers who say Nizar had sought the dissolution under Article 16(6) which provides that the mentri besar should resign if he has lost the majority in the legislature and if the ruler does not allow for fresh elections.

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