Lawyer: King cannot sack PM based on declaration

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PETALING JAYA: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong cannot dismiss the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, from office unless Najib has lost the confidence of a majority of MPs, according to a constitutional lawyer.

Bar Council member Syahredzan Johan said the Federal Constitution does not contain any provision for the king to sack a sitting prime minister based on a petition or declaration by citizens.

“There must be evidence in the form of loss of confidence by Dewan Rakyat members,” Syahredzan told FMT in response to a report about former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad being granted an audience by the king at which Dr Mahathir handed over the Citizens’ Declaration, which is reported to bear 1.4 million signatures.

Syahredzan said a representation to the king if a head of government no longer enjoyed support in the legislature was a precedent adopted in Perak in 2009.

The 10-month-old government of Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was ousted after three state assembly members defected from Pakatan Rakyat and declared themselves as Barisan Nasional-friendly independents, giving BN a three-seat majority.

The Sultan, the late Tuanku Azlan Shah, had refused to dissolve the state assembly as advised by Nizar and the Federal Court ruled in 2010 that the loss of confidence need not only be established through a vote in the legislature.

The court held that the ruler could determine the loss of confidence from other extraneous sources. However, Syahredzan said the better way was for MPs to take a vote against the prime minister when Parliament was in session.

He said the declaration, though unprecedented, was merely a political statement. He believed that the royal audience granted to Dr Mahathir showed the king’s concern about the issues raised.

Syahredzan said members of Parliament, especially those of the ruling Barisan Nasional, should seek their constituents’ views and act accordingly.

MPs should be reminded that their loyalty rested with those who elected them to office, not to a leader or political party, he said.

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