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Friday, 6 February 2009

Confusion in the state and federal constitution?

Has the Sultan of Perak read the wrong constitution? Did he make a decision based on the federal constitution, or the state constitution? We must remember that the state and federal constitution are different. Let's look at the difference below:

“After meeting all the 31 assemblymen, DYMM Paduka Seri Sultan of Perak was convinced that YAB Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin had ceased to command the confidence of the majority of the State Assembly members”.

This statement would have been a correct interpretation of the constitution if applied to the Prime Minister, but an incorrect interpretation, if applied to the Mentri Besar.

This is because the loss of confidence of the majority is prescribed differently in the two constitutions.

Under the federal constitution, the loss of confidence refers to “members of the House of Representatives” whereas under the state constitution, it refers to “the Legislative Assembly”.

This means that while the ascertainment of loss confidence can be conducted outside Parliament (such as collective appearance before the Agong) in the federal case, it cannot be repeated in state case.

The reason why I said the Sultan could have been misled is that in his statement extracted above, he mentioned “the confidence of the majority of the State Assembly members”. Notice the statement refers to “State Assembly members”, and not to “State Assembly”.

Under the circumstances, the Menteri Besar was right when he said that he was legally obliged to step down only when a motion of no confidence on him has been passed in the state assembly, but not otherwise.

Federal constitution: Article 43 (4): “If the Prime Minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives, then, unless at his request the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the Cabinet.”

Perak state constitution: Artikel XVI(6): “If the Mentri Besar ceases to command the confidence of the majority 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”.

THINK ABOUT IT. The Sultan Perak may have made a grave mistake.