Cabinet composition is PM’s prerogative, says lawyer

Mohamed Rafique says the cabinet composition must reflect the will of the people. (Bernama pic)
Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali.

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer today reminded DAP youth (Dapsy) that nothing in the Federal Constitution or any law suggests that the number of cabinet ministers must correspond with the number of parliamentary seats won by a party.

Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said it was the prerogative of the prime minister to appoint members of his cabinet to implement policies of his government.

“Nothing in the constitution or any legislation says that the prime minister must appoint ministers based on the number of parliamentary seats they had won,” he told FMT.

He was responding to Dapsy which had asked why Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet only featured six ministers from the party when it had won 42 parliamentary seats in the recent general election.

Dapsy chief Wong Kah Woh said the lineup did not reflect the “people’s aspirations” after DAP had won the second most number of parliamentary seats in Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the May 9 general election.

PKR won 48 seats, DAP 42 , PPBM 13 and Amanah 11 to secure a majority of 114 seats in the 222-seat legislature (Dewan Rakyat).

PH’s ally in Sabah, Warisan won another eight seats to strengthen PH’s claim to administer Putrajaya.

Wong said Mahathir, who is both PH and PPBM chairman, had failed to respect the proposals submitted by a coalition partner.

He said since all four parties in PH had given the prime minister the power to select and appoint ministers, the appointments should have been made from the list of candidates provided by the parties and their choices should have been respected.

He claimed that several candidates proposed by DAP, including its Sarawak chief Chong Chieng Jen, who is Stampin MP, and its Perak chief and Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming, were dropped from the ministers’ list.

Rafique, who is also a PPBM lawyer, said Wong should stop acting like an opposition leader and start working for the people and respect Mahathir’s choice.

“Just like a chief executive officer of a company, the prime minister can pick anyone to advocate the policies of the organisation,” he said.

He said Wong should stop questioning the prime minister’s wisdom as he better understood the workings of a coalition government in multi-racial Malaysia.

“Although he has taken a longer time than usual, the cabinet reflects a mixture of experience, inclusiveness, women and youth,” he said.

Rafique said Wong and others must also be reminded that PH won power largely due to the support of voters who were not card-carrying members of political parties.

“So it is wrong to assume that the spoils of victory must be shared by political parties alone. The cabinet composition must in fact reflect the will of the people,” he said.

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