Allowing Warisan to form govt would be ‘interference’ from governor, says lawyer

Sabah Governor Juhar Mahiruddin has no legal basis to appoint Shafie Apdal as the chief minister, says lawyer Tengku Ahmad Fuad. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A lawyer has urged the Sabah governor against allowing Warisan to form a minority government, saying it would interfere with the democratic process.

Tengku Ahmad Fuad, who is Sabah PPBM’s chief legal adviser, said Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and three independent candidates had 41 seats in the 73-seat assembly.

GRS comprises Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN), PBS, STAR and SAPP.

Supporters of Warisan, which won 29 seats, have contended the party can form the government with its president, Shafie Apdal, appointed as chief minister on the basis that they are the single party with the largest number of seats in the election.

“However, by natural logic and a sound understanding of the law, it is clear that Article 6(3) of the Sabah State Constitution requires a candidate to hold the confidence of the majority in the state assembly and not merely based on which single party has won the most seats in the election, despite not holding the majority confidence in the assembly,” Tengku Ahmad said.

He said if it was preferred that the single party with the most seats could form government, it would render party coalitions worthless and defeat the purpose of political democracy.

He said Article 6(7), which Warisan supporters “precariously” rely on, does not apply in the present circumstances and speaks of their desire to grab power illegitimately.

Tengku Ahmad said that in former chief minister Musa Aman’s case against Governor Juhar Mahiruddin and Shafie on the rightful chief minister, the High Court had ruled that for a chief minister to be appointed, one must command the confidence of a majority of the elected seats of the assembly.

“High Court judge Yew Jen Kie went on to say that the word ‘majority’ in Article 6(7) means more than half (50%). It does not mean ‘the most’.

“Unless a party has won more than 50% of the seats, Article 6(7) does not come into effect. Therefore, under the Sabah State Constitution, the governor has no legal basis to appoint Shafie Apdal as the chief minister since Warisan only garnered 29 DUN seats,” he said.

He said the governor had set a precedent in 2018 when he did not allow BN, a single registered party, to form a minority government.

The governor, he said, also set a precedent by allowing a loose coalition comprising Warisan, PKR, DAP and Upko to form the government in 2018.

“If he allows Warisan to form a minority government after this election, he would have effectively interfered with Sabah’s democratic processes and practices and have denied those who have been duly chosen by the people to form a government,” Tengku Ahmad added.