The Yang di-Pertuan Agong can install a new prime minister in the midst of an emergency if the candidate commands the confidence of the majority of MPs, a lawyer said.
Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin said this was possible even though Parliament was not in session.
He said the Perak case in 2009 demonstrated that the head of government could be replaced based on statutory declarations (SDs) and properly established extrinsic evidence presented to the King.
Firoz Hussein was referring to the Federal Court ruling in 2010 where the Sultan of Perak sacked Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as menteri besar and appointed Zambry Abdul Kadir, with the change occurring without having to take a floor vote in the legislative assembly.
Apart from SDs, the sultan interviewed all 59 assemblymen to conclude that Nizar no longer enjoyed the support of the majority to remain as head of the state government.
Firoz Hussein said that under Article 43 (2)(b) of the Constitution, the King appoints as prime minister an MP who, in his judgment, was likely to command the confidence of the majority in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said this in response to the King decreeing that the Perikatan Nasional government should reconvene Parliament as soon as possible, to allow MPs to debate the emergency ordinances and the government’s national recovery plan.
The Malay rulers had also said there was no need for the nation to remain under a state of emergency after Aug 1.
Parliament last met on Dec 17 and a state of emergency was declared on Jan 12.
Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said a new prime minister could request the King to extend the emergency for him to assemble his Cabinet before going to the Dewan Rakyat to prove the legitimacy of his administration.
“The situation is fluid now and he (a new prime minister) has to put his house in order, especially in dealing with civil servants,” he said.
Rafique said he was of the view that during the emergency, the executive authority was vested with the King and that certain ordinances promulgated had also taken away the power of the prime minister.
“For example, Section 14 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 allows the King to call for Parliament to reconvene on a suitable date without the advice of the prime minister,” he said.