A 19-member committee led by a retired chief justice cannot advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the state of emergency as that will be tantamount to usurping the function and duties of the Cabinet, lawyers said.
Lawyer Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar al-Mahdzar said instead the committee could only offer its advice to the prime minister and ministers.
He said the power, function and duty to advise the King on any matter rested with the Cabinet or a minister, as stated under Article 40 of the Federal Constitution.
“The advice given is not worth the paper on which it is written. The King is not constitutionally bound and there is no convention requiring him to heed any advice,” he said.
Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said the setting up of the committee was legal as it was established under Section 2 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, which came into operation on Jan 11.
“However, any advice to be tendered to the monarch will be unconstitutional as it will be an usurpation of the executive power,” he said.
Rafique said despite the emergency being declared to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, a Cabinet led by a prime minister was still intact.
“Our constitution has not been suspended.
“No federal law or ordinance can contravene the supreme law of the land,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced the members of the emergency committee, with former chief justice Arifin Zakaria as its chairman.
Other members include ex-civil servants, professionals and politicians from both sides of the political divide.
The ordinance states the independent special committee will be set up to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the continuing existence of the grave emergency threatening the security, economic life and public order of the federation arising from Covid-19. – FMT