PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad may have promised Anwar Ibrahim the country’s top post, but there is nothing legally binding or enforceable, a constitutional lawyer says after the prime minister again renewed his commitment to abide by an agreement reached by Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties.
R Kengadharan said Anwar, the PKR president, still has to command the confidence of the 222 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, before the king can appoint him to the post.
“This is not the case of a promise to marry where the aggrieved party could seek legal remedy in court for damages in case of breach,” Kengadharan told FMT.
“That promise (to hand over power to Anwar) is not enforceable in law unless the provision in the Federal Constitution is fulfilled,” he said.
Mahathir, whose dramatic sacking of Anwar in 1998 sparked the Reformasi movement, made peace with his former deputy and protégé in 2016, and both men created the coalition that brought down Barisan Nasional in the May polls.
Under a deal struck by the PH leadership, Anwar, who handsomely won the Port Dickson by-election to mark his return to active politics, will succeed Mahathir as prime minister in two years’ time.
PH consisting of PPBM, PKR, DAP and Amanah had consented to nominate Mahathir as prime minister for a short period.
The issue was brought up again during the PPBM general assembly yesterday, when a delegate from Kelantan proposed that Mahathir remain as prime minister for the next five years, when the 15th general election is due.
Mahathir brushed aside the suggestion, saying he would stick to the two-year timeline.
“I made a promise, I will keep my promise. Some people think that the tenure is too short.
“But people are entitled to their own views and opinions,” he said.
Kengadharan said despite the promise, Anwar must satisfy Article 43 of the Federal Constitution before he can become the prime minister.
That provision states that the Agong appoints a prime minister who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the MPs.
Kengadharan said legally, individual MPs decide who becomes the prime minister, although voters choose candidates who stand under a party ticket.
“Should there be a vacancy due to death or resignation, the voters could still show their preference through their MPs over who should be their next prime minister.”