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Nation heading towards constitutional crisis, warns Johari Ghani

KUALA LUMPUR: A former minister sees the country heading towards a constitutional crisis following the rebuke issued by the Palace and the reply from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Noting that this does not bode well for the people and the nation, former second finance minister Johari Ghani has reiterated his call for the appointment of an interim prime minister to steer the nation out of the health, economic and political crises.

He said the only way to resolve the current political impasse and save the country was to have an interim prime minister manage the Covid-19 and economic crises, and set a date for Parliament to be dissolved so that the mandate to decide the destiny of the nation could be returned to the voters.

The Umno leader told FMT that it was “obvious that our country is heading towards a constitutional crisis” following the expression of disappointment by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over the revocation of the emergency ordinances without his consent and the reply by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that the government had taken action in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the rule of law.

Johari said: “As of now, our country is already facing health, economic and political crises and we cannot afford a constitutional crisis that will affect our nation’s path to recovery from Covid-19.

”Therefore, it’s high time for leaders of all parties, whether from the government or opposition, to support the appointment of an interim prime minister so that the government can focus on ensuring vaccination efforts won’t be derailed as only 19% of Malaysia’s population has been fully vaccinated.”

The Umno Supreme Council member said the interim prime minister, with the advice of public health experts, could then set a definitive timeline for Parliament to be dissolved and a general election to be held “to return the mandate to Malaysians and resolve this stalemate once and for all.”

Noting that the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) had targeted for all adults in Malaysia to be fully vaccinated by October 2021, Johari said the interim prime minister could set the dissolution of Parliament for the end of the year and the holding of a general election by early 2022.

On Monday, minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Takiyuddin Hassan told the Dewan Rakyat that all the emergency ordinances had been revoked as of July 21 and that the government had decided to cancel them under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

This sudden announcement in Parliament on July 26 took both MPs and ordinary citizens by surprise. The opposition claimed this “secret revocation” was to prevent the need to debate and vote on it as that would prove prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin did not have majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.

Yesterday, the Palace issued a statement saying Putrajaya did not get the King’s consent to revoke the emergency ordinances and that Takiyuddin’s statement in Parliament was “inaccurate and had misled the members of the Dewan Rakyat”.

Comptroller of the Royal Household Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said in the statement that Articles 150(2B) and 150(3) of the Federal Constitution clearly gave the authority for the enactment and revocation of ordinances to the King.

He said the King had earlier told Takiyuddin and Attorney-General Idrus Harun during a virtual audience that the revocation of ordinances should be tabled and debated in Parliament.

The King said the government’s actions had failed to respect the rule of law and went against the Agong’s functions and powers as the head of state, as enshrined in the constitution.

In replying to the royal rebuke, the PMO said in a statement yesterday evening that the government’s revocation of the emergency ordinances had been done in accordance with the law and the Federal Constitution.

The statement went on to give a chronological account of what the government had done with regards to the decision to revoke the emergency ordinances.

The PMO cited Article 40(1A) of the constitution to say that the Agong “shall accept and act in accordance with such advice”, that is, the advice of the Cabinet. – Free Malaysia Today

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