By Lim Kit Siang
The de facto Law Minister, Takiyuddin Hassan is talking bunkum.
Where is the Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin? Does he understand what he announced in his national telecast on January 12, 2021?
Is Muhyiddin the Prime Minister or can every Minister can pretend that he or she is the Prime Minister?
Takiyuddin Hassan has denied that the cabinet was “shifting goalposts” as to when the emergency period should come to an end. He said the cabinet was only “correcting” rules to help the “referee” make the right decision.
What does Takiyuddin mean what he said he was merely “correcting” the rules when he corrected the Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah for saying that only the king had the discretion to extend the emergency by pointing out that it was the Cabinet’s responsibility to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong whether or not the emergency should be extended.
The constitutional rules on the “Yang di Pertuan Agong acting on advice” are crystal clear. They are set out in Article 40, as follows:
“Article 40. (1) In the exercise of his functions under this Constitution or federal law the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet or of a Minister acting under the general authority of the Cabinet, except as otherwise provided by this Constitution; but shall be entitled, at his request, to any information concerning the government of the Federation which is available to the Cabinet.
“(1A) In the exercise of his functions under this Constitution or federal law, where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is to act in accordance with advice, on advice, or after considering advice, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall accept and act in accordance with such advice.
“(2) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may act in his discretion in the performance of the following functions, that is to say:
(a) the appointment of a Prime Minister;
(b) the withholding of consent to a request for the dissolution of Parliament;
(c) the requisition of a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses, and any action at such a meeting, and in any other case mentioned in this Constitution.”
However, in his national telecast on January 12 announcing the emergency proclaimed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong the previous day, Muhyiddin sought to allay reservations about the emergency as a proper remedy to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and possible abuses of power.
This was where in his national telecast on January 12, Muhyiddin announced a Special Independent Committee and gave an implicit undertaking that it is the Special Independent Committee and not the Cabinet or the designated Minister who will advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong on whether the emergency declared on January 11 will be extended on August 1, 2021.
Strict constitutionalists would argue that the powers of the Cabinet or the designated Minister cannot be delegated, but if the Prime Minister has given an implicit public undertaking that it is the Special Independent Committee and not the Cabinet or designated Minister who will advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong “whether a major emergency still exist to continue with the period of Emergency Proclamation or terminate the Proclamation earlier than the date designated”, is Muhyiddin to dishonour such a solemn implicit public undertaking?
Had the Prime Minister been wrongly advised by the de facto Law Minister to give such an implicit public undertaking?
If it is the Cabinet or the designated Minister who is going to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong on whether to extend the emergency on August 1, why then set up a Special Independent Committee headed by the former Chief Justice and comprising former public officials and Members of Parliament?
Where is the Prime Minister?
This is the time for Muhyiddin to speak up.
(Media Statement (2) by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, June 13, 2021)
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This post first appeared on Lim Kit Siang‘s blog.