Speaker's stand impugns PM's right to office

Mat Zain Ibrahim

Modified 12 Jun 2013, 11:32 am

This refers to Malaysiakini's report T ake the oath or get the boot in six months, MPs warned .

"Elected representatives who fail to take their oath of office on the first day of the first session of Parliament without good reason, will lose their eligibility to remain parliamentarian after six months."

"If they do not take their oath of office, elected representatives will not be able to perform their role as MPs. They will become strangers to the House. They cannot even sit in there, and they cannot attend sittings or exercise their duties."

As far as the above statements are concerned, what outgoing Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia said is perfectly right and in line with the provisions of the constitution.

I couldn't agree more with his comments on this issue.

The oath, as member of Parliament and of allegiance, is stated in the sixth schedule of the constitution.

Similarly, before a minister or a deputy minister exercises the functions of his office he shall take and subscribe in the presence of the Yang d-Pertuan Agong the oath of office and allegiance and the oath of secrecy set out in the sixth schedule as required under article 43(6) and article 43A(3) respectively.

I must emphasise that the oaths to be affirmed are as set out in the sixth schedule and not any other. Any other type or form of oaths taken are invalid and rendered not in accordance with the constitution.

It is as good as not taking the oaths altogether.

This brings the validity or legitimacy of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's swearing-in ceremony as the 6th premier on April 3, 2009 before the Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, into question.

Najib appeared to be taking the oath of office and allegiance and oath of secrecy as required of him before the Agong. However the oaths Najib affirmed were not as stated in the sixth schedule.

As such Najib cannot be considered to have taken the oath of office and allegiance and oath of secrecy as required under the constitution. Najib failed to adhere to the mandatory provision of Article 43(6).

He can be considered as not taken the oaths at all.

As rightly put by Pandikar Amin, Najib has become somewhat a stranger in the cabinet. He did not qualify to exercise the functions of the prime minister of Malaysia since taking over in April 2009.

For that matter he cannot even be in the cabinet meetings, let alone to exercise his powers as a prime minister.

In short, since April 3, 2009, we have had to bear with an illegitimate prime minister and cabinet.

This matter was first raised to the appropriate authorities and to the PM himself since November 2011 after Najib was discovered to have affirmed two questionable affidavits.

However, as usual, this issue was just brushed aside although it involved certain violations of the constitution by the premier, and of him suspected to have affirmed false affidavits.

Although Pandikar Amin is not the final authority to decide whether Najib's oaths affirmed on April 3, 2009 are valid or in accordance with the constitution or otherwise, still his opinion can be sought being an experienced speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.

Where disputes concerning the constitution have emerged, the appropriate authority to adjudicate the matter is the Federal Court.

Parliament has no other option, but to have the matter referred to the Federal Court. Since oath taking is a hotly debated subject now, it is incumbent upon the Parliament speaker to solve the validity of Najib's oaths once and for all.

All the MPs, in particular the newly appointed ones, must push and support this issue not only to be debated but to demand the speaker to get the answer forthwith, preferably before the 13th Parliament commences on June 24.

If Najib's non-conformity of the strict oath taking procedures stated in the constitution is considered a trivial issue which does not merit a second look, then the speaker shouldn't have made a fuss over whether the MPs take their oath as members or otherwise.

In the event the premier's oath of office affirmed on April 3, 2009 be declared invalid, every single thing he has done in the capacity of the prime minister would have to be declared null and void including, advising the Agong to dissolve the 12th Parliament on April 3, 2013.

When that happens the premier and every member of the cabinet must resign instantly and a fresh federal election be conducted.

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MAT ZAIN IBRAHIM is former chief of the Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Department.