Malaysiakini News

Codifying royal prerogative in appointing heads of gov'ts

Nathaniel Tan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | We finally have a date for the swearing-in of the rest of the cabinet members – July 2. Why such a long delay, especially when the list was reportedly sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on June 20, remains unclear.

We experienced similar delays in the appointment of the menteri besar of Perlis and Selangor, and to a lesser extent, in the appointment of the prime minister after GE 14. Before this, there was also the Selangor political crisis of 2014.

All these incidents speak of political instability that results from a failure of the system to work in the manner that it should.

Institutions and processes of government should be codified in such a manner as to hold true to democratic principles, uphold constitutional monarchy and efficiently provide for all numbers of scenarios.

Having proper laws and processes in place ensures that every institution involved will execute its duties as envisaged in the constitution, while giving minimum (if any) leeway for what could broadly be termed as human error.

I am neither a lawyer nor a constitutional expert but perhaps, even as laymen, we can sketch out some of the principles that would inform a more formal, structured and resilient codification of the process of appointing a head of government.

In order to achieve this goal, a number of institutions must perform their duties correctly.

Chronologically, the first in this process is the Election Commission, which must tally and report the results of an election accurately and impartially. Pages upon pages could be written on this alone, but to move forward, for now, let us assume that this is done.

Thereafter, there should be an accurate list of all the elected representatives. If no party or coalition is able to form a simple majority, then there is another set of contingencies, again mostly beyond the scope of today’s article.

If there is a clear simple majority, however, which has unanimously agreed on a candidate for head of government, then from this point forward there should not be any ambiguity or excessive amounts of discretion...

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