PETALING JAYA: Anwar Ibrahim says that if the Barisan Nasional government is truly committed to defend the position of Malay Rulers, then it should not obstruct his efforts to restore the requirement for royal assent in the enactment of law.
The former opposition leader is referring to the case filed in the Federal Court on Tuesday, seeking leave under Article 4(4) of the Federal Constitution from the Federal Court to question the validity of a few amendments made in 1983, 1984, and 1994 that removes the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong’s powers to give the final approval for bills passed by the Dewan Rakyat.
His wife, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had filed the case on his behalf.
“I call upon Prime Minister Najib Razak and the government to instruct its legal representatives to not oppose my pending application in the Federal Court.
“In the light of the public importance of this case, I call for a speedy hearing,” Anwar said in a statement today.
He then cited the issue of the passing of the National Security (NSC) Act as to why the case needed urgent attention.
“In June of last year, the Conference of Rulers publicly expressed concern over the NSC bill, which gave emergency powers to the prime minister and the National Security Council.
“But the BN government ignored their concerns and went ahead to gazette the Bill without the royal assent. This unprecedented incident shows the urgent necessity to restore the mandatory requirement for the royal assent.”
Anwar had previously alleged that Parliament had no power to pass the amendments in question as they took away the mandatory requirement of royal assent
He said that the royal assent forms the basic structure of the Federal Constitution.
“The restoration of the mandatory requirement of the royal assent is imperative to maintain the constitutional balance between the elected government and our hereditary monarchy.
“It will also preserve and protect the role and position of the Malay Rulers and the integrity of our constitutional monarchy,” he said.
Anwar added that the Rulers play a crucial role as a check upon any attempt by the executive to subvert our nation’s democracy and constitutional scheme.
Unsuccessful suit to strike down NSC
This is not Anwar’s first case in court linked to the NSC.
He had previously filed a lawsuit to strike down the NSC claiming that Article 66(4A) which allows a parliamentary bill to automatically become law 30 days after it is presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong regardless of whether he assents to it or not, was unconstitutional.
However, his lawsuit was dismissed by the High Court on October 2016 and the Court of Appeal upheld the decision last year.
In dismissing Anwar’s appeal, the appeals court had said he should have gone straight to the Federal Court as he was challenging the competency of Parliament to pass the law.
The controversial NSC Act was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Dec 3 and the Dewan Negara on Dec 22.
The law, gazetted in June 2016, allows the prime minister to chair the National Security Council and declare a state of emergency without having to go through the Yang diPertuan Agong.
NSC Act became a law under Article 66 (4A) which stated a bill becomes a law 30 days after it was presented to the Agong, even without his assent.
Anwar is currently serving a five-year jail sentence for sodomy, and is expected to be out from prison by June, having served two-thirds of his sentence, which commenced in February 2015.
Anwar, was deputy prime minister in the government, led by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which amended the Federal Constitution in 1994, without referring to the Conference of Rulers as required, making it such that any Bill approved by Parliament would automatically become law even without royal assent after 30 days.
Before 1994, the Agong had the power to return a Bill to Parliament for reconsideration and to state his reasons for objecting to the Bill.