I refer to the comments by Tommy Thomas reported on March 6.
Without a doubt, his comments are very informative and strictly based on the provisions of the constitution of which he is an expert.
It is true that one of the great privileges that a Malaysian prime minister enjoys is to decide on the date of the general election before the expiry of his five-year term, and which most incumbents take advantage of.
The privileges and powers that a Malaysian prime minister enjoys are all based and protected by the constitution. Nobody can dispute that.
However before the prime minister can enjoy the privileges and exercises the function of his office, he has to take and subscribe in the presence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong the oath of office and allegiance and the oath of secrecy set out in the sixth schedule of the constitution.
There's no choice here. If the prime minister accepts the appointment as such based on the constitution, he must also accept the provision of taking the oath of office and allegiance and oath of secrecy as set out in the sixth schedule and no others.
Regardless whether the oaths are old fashioned and not liked by the prime minister or that the oaths are the same as that meant for the ordinary ministers and deputy ministers, the prime minister must subscribe to the oaths as appeared in the sixth schedule without changing or altering or rearranging the wording of the oaths.
Otherwise he fails the test to be a legitimate prime minister for not taking the oaths in accordance with the constitution and thus unable to exercise the functions of his office.
What we have before us here is Najib Abdul Razak, who is qualified to be appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to preside over the cabinet as prime minister but one who did not subscribe to the oaths as set out in the sixth schedule.
Not only our PM cannot exercise the functions of his office,his advice to the Agong on the appointments of the other ministers and deputy ministers are also not valid.
When Najib's legitimacy as the Malaysian prime minister is questionable, so too is his privilege to decide on the date of the dissolution of Parliament and the general election.
When we don't have a legitimate cabinet, how could we have a caretaker government then?
For a clearer picture of the issue I wish to suggest it be read together with the following Malaysiakini articles:
a) BN becomes caretaker gov't on March 8 by Tommy Thomas.
b) An oath of office by KJ John.
c) Question over validity of Najib's oath-taking ceremony by Mat Zain.
d) Najib's name game may cost him GE Nomination by Mat Zain.
MAT ZAIN IBRAHIM is former chief of the Criminal Investigation Department, Kuala Lumpur Police Contingent.