Putrajaya—Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Tun Mahathir Mohamad upheld the country’s 1957 federal constitution as the highest law of the land in what many interpret to be a message to the royal family of Johor, as he emphasised how it superseded state constitutions even if they pre-date the federal one.
In a 14-point blog post, which he also posted on his Facebook page, he wrote, “The constitutions of Johor and Terengganu which were promulgated earlier were nullified by the new constitution which was accepted by all the states of Malaysia.”
Dr Mahathir traced the beginnings of Malaysian statehood, specifically its federal constitution.
He wrote, “8. Negotiations were held in London and eventually it was agreed that Malaya would become independent in 1957.
9. In preparation for this, the Reid Commission was tasked with drawing up the independent Federal Constitution.
10. It was agreed that Malaya would be a democracy where the people would choose the Government. The rulers would be constitutional heads without executive power. Their position would be guaranteed by the Constitution which would be the supreme law of the country.”
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said that according to the constitution, the party that would win in the election would be the one to name the chief minister. “11. The party winning the election would name the Prime Minister (or the Chief Minister – Menteri Besar) and the constitutional head would endorse.”
And, in cases where the constitutional monarch refuses to endorse the nominee and instead puts forward “his own candidate and endorses him” Dr Mahathir wrote that the winning party could reject this candidate in the assembly or “dewan” via a no-confidence vote.
He also wrote that Johore and Terengganu’s constitutions, while promulgated earlier, had been nullified by the “new constitution which was accepted by all the states of Malaysia.”
He then reminded everyone that the people had chosen “the Governments of (the Federation) Malaysia and the Governments of the states” when the latest elections were held on May 9, 2018.
He ended his post by underlining how important it is to follow the rule of law.
“14. It is important that everyone concerned respects the constitution and abide by it. Failure to do so would negate the rule of law.”
Dr Mahathir’s post seemed particularly pointed in the wake of what many perceived to be interference from the Sultan of Johor in the resignation of the former Chief Minister (menteri besar) of Johor, Osman Sapian, and his replacement with his successor, Sahruddin Jamal.
According to the Sultan of Johor and his son, the Crown Prince, the state constitution dictates that it is within the jurisdiction of the royal family to choose the chief minister and exec members of Johor.
It has been reported that Dr Mahathir was displeased that Mr Sharuddin had reshuffled the form state executive council, which the royals had asked for, instead of sticking to a cabinet agreement to keep the state executive council in place.
Former menteri besar Osman had said to the press on April 13 that the Sultan had wished for a mixing up of state executive council members.
On Monday, April 22, Tosrin Jarvanthi and Mohd Solihan Badri from Bersatu and Tan Chen Choon from DAP were sworn in before the sultan at Istana Bukit Serene in Johor Baru as new members of the state executive council. Mr Sahruddin was also awarded a datukship by the Sultan.
However, according to Dr Mahathir, the state executive council lineup was for the Johor Pakatan Harapan to decide upon, and that “The Johor sultan has no influence,” he said, on the state executive council./ TISG
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