Constitutional crisis if Agong refuses PM’s AG candidate, says lawyer

Tommy Thomas is the government’s candidate to replace Mohamed Apandi Ali as the attorney-general.

PETALING JAYA: The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong has no choice but to appoint the candidate for attorney-general nominated by the prime minister, says a constitutional lawyer.

Bastian Vendargon said Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution clearly states the king appoints the AG on the advice of the prime minister.

“The appointment of any other person will lead to a constitutional crisis,” he told FMT.

Vendargon said this in response to the ongoing public debate over Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s nomination of Tommy Thomas to replace Mohamed Apandi Ali, who was ordered by the government to go on unrecorded leave.

However, the palace was reported to be against the nomination and insisted on a Muslim Malay to fill the post.

A special meeting of the Conference of Rulers is scheduled at the Istana Negara tomorrow in an apparent attempt to resolve the impasse over the appointment which the PH government has said is a key step in carrying out the process of law enforcement and related matters.

Mahathir said yesterday the government would strive to resolve the issue according to the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

Vendargon said the king could request the prime minister to nominate another candidate for the position based on the constitutional requirement and other relevant factors.

“The prime minister has the option to say yes or no. In the end, the king can only appoint the candidate as advised by the prime minister,” he said.

Vendargon said Thomas was qualified to hold the AG’s position as he fulfilled the criteria listed in the constitution.

“Article 123 states a person is qualified to be a judge of the superior court if he/she is a citizen and has been a lawyer or member of the judicial and legal service for at least 10 years,” he said.

Thomas has been in private practice for more than 30 years.

Vendargon said Article 145 also states that the status of the AG was equivalent to a Federal Court judge.

“Thomas also fits the bill because of his long years in legal practice,” he added.