Anyone can meet the King, say constitutional lawyers

The King opening a new session of Parliament.

GEORGE TOWN: A lawyer today rubbished a claim by a law academic that only the prime minister can have an audience with the King to discuss matters related to a change in majority in Parliament.

Gurdial Singh Nijar said the King may meet anyone he wishes, also MPs claiming the sitting prime minister has lost the confidence of MPs.

“The King can meet anyone who claims to have the confidence of the majority. In carrying out his constitutional role under Article 40, he can grant an audience to them.

“The Federal Constitution does not provide for who can or cannot see the King,” the former law professor told FMT.

Gurdial Singh Nijar.

Lawyer Andrew Khoo said in the case of Anwar Ibrahim, he was the parliamentary opposition leader and can meet the King to keep him abreast of what is happening in the country.

He said the opposition leader is considered a senior parliamentarian by convention and can be considered the alternative PM in the event there is a small parliamentary majority.

Andrew Khoo.

“The constitution does not say who the King can or cannot see or talk to. There is no reason why the King should not, from time to time, hear from the opposition leader, as well,” the Malaysian Bar constitutional law committee co-chair said.

Both Gurdial and Khoo said once the King receives information that another party has the confidence of the majority in Parliament, he may proceed to investigate.

The King may then, in his judgement, decide who commands the confidence of the majority, by meeting all concerned or other ways he deems fit, they said.

Gurdial said the PM, if he feels that he has lost his majority, may request the King to dissolve Parliament to pave the way for a fresh election.

Earlier today, International Islamic University Malaysia’s Shamrahayu Ab Aziz said only the PM can have an audience with the King, by the virtue of him being the sitting PM.

She said the King cannot decide on changing majorities in Parliament when the sitting PM has yet to resign.

She said Anwar, who now claims to command a new majority in Parliament, should instead push for a motion of no confidence against PM Muhyiddin Yassin, since the latter has yet to resign from the post.

Shamrahayu said otherwise, Anwar should convey to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that he has majority support in Parliament. In turn, Muhyiddin can relay the message to the King.

“If Muhyiddin goes to the Agong and tells him that he has lost the majority, it is only then that the King can decide who has the majority,” she told Sinar Harian.