By Azhar “Art” Harun
The fact that PKR wants Anwar Ibrahim, and only Anwar to be the prime minister is well known. A recent event further confirmed this. Even Wan Azizah Wan Ismail readily conceded during an interview that she is just a “seat warmer.”
Anwar is however in jail. He can’t be nominated as a candidate in the next general election. That means he will not be a Member of Parliament (MP) after the 14th General Election.
When he is out of prison, he is further barred from running for any seat in an election. Only an MP can become a PM. Even if he was appointed as a senator, he still cannot be the PM. The Federal Constitution says the PM must come from the lower house or the Dewan Rakyat.
The question thus is, how can Anwar become the PM?
I suppose the intention is this. If Pakatan Harapan wins the general election, PKR would push for a royal pardon. That would erase Anwar’s conviction.
Thereafter I suppose PKR would do another Kajang move. Someone will resign his or her position as an MP. Anwar will then run in the by-election. If he wins, they will appoint him as the PM.
First of all, I don’t like the idea of an MP, who is elected by the voters, having to resign just to accommodate another person, be it Anwar or whoever. It is making a mockery of the system. It sends the message that votes are not important or sacred. And the voters’ decision is not important.
Second of all, the process of getting a royal pardon is not that simple. It is not a fait accompli.
In the constitution, royal pardons are given by the king for offences committed in the Federal Territory. For offences committed in any of the other states, it is given by the respective sultans or governors.
Sodomy 2 was committed in the Federal Territory. Therefore the king must give the pardon.
However, there is this “creature” known as the Pardons Board. That board consists of the Attorney-General, the Federal Territories Minister and three members appointed by the king. The king presides over the board.
Can you see how many people PKR has to deal with just to get a recommendation to pardon Anwar?
Even if the Pardons Board recommends a pardon, the next question is, must the king follow the recommendation?
Although the constitution says the king must follow any advice given to him when he is required to act on advice, our courts have ruled that in relation to the power to pardon, the king may exercise his own judgement or discretion. In other words the king is not bound to follow the Pardons Board’s recommendation. This was the ruling by our Federal Court as recent as 2011.
So the king has a mind of his own in relation to the power of pardon. He may or may not exercise that power no matter what everybody else, including the Pardons Board or the government, has to say.
So how can PKR be so dead sure that it can make Anwar the PM if it wins the next general election?
It is one thing to make promises and believe in them. However the promise of making Anwar the next PM is not a matter that is within PKR’s power to realise.
PKR cannot, and should not, assume that the king will agree to pardon Anwar.
Azhar “Art” Harun is a lawyer.
With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s (or organisation’s) personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.