Harsh Statements About The Sultan.

NH CHAN

Former Court of Appeal judge

 

20th February 2009

Malaysiakini.

 

Now we know why the people of Perak and elsewhere in Malaysia, are making harsh statements about the sultan. A quick search on the Internet will prove this.

 

It is the perception of the people that matters; and the confidence of the people is destroyed when they go away thinking that he was biased – that he had been influenced by Najib.

 

It is very sad that Sultan Azlan Shah, who had been held in high esteem internationally and by the populace, has, in a careless moment, lost all that.

 

His reputation for fairness and justice has been shattered when they go away thinking that he had been influenced by Najib or that he has favoured BN. It does not matter whether he did, in fact, favour one side unfairly.

 

Suffice it that reasonable people might think that he did. The die is cast and we cannot put the clock back. Hereafter, there may be many who will no longer believe in his speeches on good governance and the integrity of the judiciary.

 

The impression is that he does not practise what he preaches.

 

When the menteri besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the legislative assembly, he has two choices.

 

First, he may request the ruler to dissolve the assembly for the purpose of a state election. Second, if his request is turned down by the ruler, “he shall tender the resignation of the executive council”.

 

This is provided in Article XVI, Clause (6) which reads: “(6) if the Menteri Besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly, then unless at his request His Royal Highness dissolves the Legislative Assembly, he shall tender the resignation of the Executive Council.”

 

What Article XVI, Clause (6) says is this: If the menteri besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the legislative assembly, he shall tender the resignation of the executive council, unless the ruler has, at the request of the menteri besar, dissolved the legislative assembly.

 

However, in the present case, Mohd Nizar on Feb 4, had requested the ruler to dissolve the legislative assembly, and the ruler informed him on Feb 5 that he acted in his discretion to withhold his consent for the dissolution of the assembly.

 

That being the case, the menteri besar has no other choice but to tender the resignation of the executive council.

 

Under Article XWI, Clause (2), paragraph (b), the ruler has a personal discretion to withhold his consent to the menteri besar’s request for the dissolution of the legislative assembly.

 

Unfortunately, the ruler, in the present case, has acted unconstitutionally when he side stepped the constitutional provisions of Article XVI, Clause (6) of the laws of the Perak constitution.

 

This was what he did.

 

The Sultan of Perak’s media statement said: “Mohd Nizar was summoned to an audience with the sultan to be informed of the ruler’s decision not to dissolve the State Assembly, and in accordance with the provisions of Article XVI (6) of the Perak Darul Ridzuan State Constitution, the Sultan of Perak ordered Mohd Nizar to resign from his post as Perak menteri besar together with the members of the state executive council with immediate effect.

 

“If Mohd Nizar does not resign from his post as Perak menteri besar together with the state executive council members, then the posts of menteri besar and state executive councillors are regarded as vacant.”

 

As we know the sultan is a constitutional monarch who has no power to rule except a couple of discretionary powers mentioned in Article XVIII, Clause (2).

 

So, apart from the couple of matters mentioned in Article XVIII, Clause (2), the Sultan of Perak has no power to order Mohd Nizar to resign from his post as Perak menteri besar together with the members of the state executive council with immediate effect.

 

Nor has he the power to declare that the posts of menteri besar and state executive councillors are regarded as vacant.

 

In the present case, the menteri besar had acted under Article XVI, Clause (6) which permitted him to request the ruler to dissolve the legislative assembly if he ceased to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the legislative assembly.

 

 

In this case, the ruler turned down his request. Then the menteri besar has no choice but “to tender the resignation of the executive council”.

 

So, why did the ruler, in the present case, depart from the provisions of Article XVI, Clause (6)?

 

Under the provisions of Clause (6), the sultan knew that the ball was in the menteri besar’s court and it was to be the menteri besar who “should tender the resignation of the executive council”.

 

Yet he chose to ignore these provisions of the Perak constitution.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*Justice (rtd) NH CHAN is a former Court of Appeal judge famous for his ‘All is not well in the House of Denmark’ comment regarding judicial corruption. He was then referring to High Court’s commercial division which was located in Wisma Denmark, Kuala Lumpur. The quote is based on Shakespeare’s ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’. He now lives in Ipoh.

About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

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