By ROGER CHIN
COMMENT: The Sabah Law Society [SLS] notes the recent media reports concerning the suggestion that a Member of Parliament [MP] from Sabah be a candidate for the post of Prime Minister for Malaysia [PM].
Stemming from these media reports, parties from the political divide reacted in the media with differing viewpoints.
Due to the diverse political spectrum, it is uncertain at this point in time as to whether there is confirmation that the MP is in fact the nominated candidate for the position of PM.
From the outset, SLS wishes to stress that it is apolitical and does not take a position on politics.
However, as the statutory body representing lawyers in Sabah, SLS feels that it is necessary to highlight the legal provisions relevant to the issue at hand.
So, in response to a number of queries on the legal process and criteria for the candidacy and appointment of a PM, the SLS states as follows:-
1. Articles 40 (2) (a) and 43 (2) (a) of the Federal Constitution [FC] lay out the discretionary process of appointing a PM by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong [YDPA];
2. the preconditions are that a PM must be a MP who is likely to command the majority of the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat;
3. the race, religion, region or gender of the nominee are not prescribed by law and therefore a candidate MP for the post of PM can come from any race, religion, gender or State in Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak;
4. the PM designate need not belong to the largest party in a political coalition, the FC does not stipulate that a PM must be the leader of the largest political party or of a recognised coalition. In fact, the FC does not refer to political parties; and
5. therefore, the majority MPs need not all belong to the PM’s party or a coalition.
Given the above constitutional provisions it has always been constitutionally conceivable that a Member of Parliament from any State, from Perlis to Sabah, including Sarawak, be appointed as the PM.
This would be in line with aspirations for national integration as envisaged by the Federal Constitution
Finally, it must be emphasised that the question of the appointment of the PM is the prerogative of the Agong and that would only arise where the sitting PM resigns or loses a vote of no confidence motion in Parliament and/or there is a dissolution of Parliament.
– Roger Chin is President of the Sabah Law Society