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Surendran: Federal Constitution cannot be disregarded with impunity

Published
Modified 25 Apr 2019, 6:17 am

The government is "duty-bound" to enforce the Federal Constitution, and can even legislate to "bring the state to order" and remove contradictory provisions in state constitutions.

Citing several articles of the constitution, human rights lawyer N Surendran said Putrajaya can invoke Article 71(3) of the constitution in cases where provisions on upholding the system of constitutional monarchy have been disregarded.

Surendran, who is also Lawyers for Liberty adviser, tweeted in reference to the social media posting by Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim of two constitutional articles pertaining to federal guarantees of state constitutions and the sovereignty of the rulers.

“Well, he must also be aware of Article 71(3) (of the) Federal Constitution - if provisions of the federal or state constitution(s) are 'habitually' disregarded, the federal government can legislate to bring the state to order.”

“So, if there's a disregard of the provisions upholding the system of constitutional monarchy, the federal government may invoke 71(3).

“By Article 71(4), the federal government can intervene to remove provisions in the state constitution which are inconsistent with the federal constitution, including provisions that run contrary to principles of constitutional monarchy.

“In the long run, the (Federal) Constitution can't be disregarded with impunity and the federal government is duty-bound to enforce it,” Surendran tweeted earlier today.

The crown prince’s posting, which cited Articles 71 and 181, had followed a blog post by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who claimed the state constitutions of Johor and Terengganu were “nullified” with the formation of the Federation of Malaya.

This is the latest episode in a running disagreement between Mahathir and the Johor royal family. 

It stemmed from Putrajaya’s initial decision to accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and has since simmered over the selection of a new state menteri besar following the resignation of Osman Sapian, and the reshuffling of the Johor executive council lineup.

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