A minister could have flouted penal laws, including the Sedition Act, for crudely suggesting that the “monarch has to listen” to the Cabinet, a lawyer said.
SN Nair said that by uttering such a statement, housing and local government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin reflected her “dangerously myopic” understanding of the workings of the Federal Constitution and other federal laws.
“Her statement borders on sedition for fomenting contempt, hatred and disaffection towards the King,” he told FMT.
The ex-cop turned lawyer said Zuraida may have also committed an offence under Section 124B of the Penal Code for an ‘activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy’.
Nair said this in response to Zuraidah’s stand that the issuing of a statement by the King on a proposal to revoke six emergency ordinances (EO) was “not proper”.
Talking to the hosts of the talk show “Consider This” on Astro Awani last night, the Perikatan Nasional Wanita chief said: “It is a waste of time to argue on this, when we know it will end up (with) something that is up to the government and Cabinet to decide, and the monarch has to listen.
“If he needs clarification, we (will) clarify with him to his satisfaction. So, that should be the way.”
Zuraida said the King, who was bound to act on the advice of the Cabinet in most matters, could have engaged with them first to seek clarification before issuing the Palace statement.
Nair said although Malaysia practised the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, in law, the monarch is not a mere rubber stamp.
“The King has and always will retain residual prerogative powers. (The Constitution) is a fluid and living document, not a dead letter,” he added.
Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali said during an emergency, executive power rests with the King, and he is not bound to follow the advice of the prime minister or the Cabinet.
“Clearly, the King had decided that the EOs should be repealed by Parliament,” he said, alluding to the Ruler’s virtual meeting with law minister Takiyuddin Hassan and attorney-general Idrus Harun on July 24.
On July 29, the Palace issued a statement that Putrajaya had not obtained the King’s consent. Later the same day, the Prime Minister’s Office responded that all laws were followed.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said as the emergency had already ended on Aug 1, the issue regarding the revocation of the EOs by the King no longer arose.
Muhyiddin in a statement said the EOs would be brought to the Dewan Rakyat in September for debate, in line with the King’s decree on the matter.
Meanwhile, a PKR leader has slammed Zuraida over her arrogance for saying that the Agong should have sought Putrajaya’s explanation on the decision by the Cabinet to revoke the EOs before issuing any statement on the matter.
Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak said Zuraida had shown contempt against the King’s call to table and debate the EOs in the Dewan Rakyat.
“A report should be lodged against her and she should be probed if she had crossed the line in her statement,” the Perak PKR chief said in a statement this evening.
Zuraida said on the Consider This talk show on Astro Awani yesterday evening: “(Malaysia has) a constitutional monarchy where (the monarch) has to get the advice of the cabinet and prime minister in anything (that the monarch) wants to do.
“I am a bit upset. Anything that they are not clear (with), they should always call the Prime Minister’s Office. (Moreover,) the prime minister (is granted an audience by the Agong) once a week before the cabinet meeting.
“The king is supposed to listen to what is being recommended by the cabinet. So, they have to listen to this. There should have been discussion and engagement.
“There shouldn’t have been any kind of public statement which, I think, is not that proper in this kind of constitutional monarchy system,”
When asked for her view of the Agong’s claim that de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan had misled Parliament on the revocation of the EO, Zuraida defended him.
“If you listen carefully to what was being said – word by word – he has said nothing with regard to the ordinances. He said that the cabinet has revoked the ordinances on July 21.
“So that was the cabinet decision. There’s nothing wrong with that,” she said.