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MP SPEAKS | AG's interpretation of law is repugnant to parliamentary democracy

MP SPEAKS |I read with alarm the media statement issued by Attorney-General Idrus Harun on June 25.

The media statement seems to give the following erroneous views:

i. That the ultimate powers in a parliamentary democracy rests with the executive. This is repugnant to the very idea of parliamentary democracy.

ii. That subsidiary legislation and laws can override the provisions of the Federal Constitution. This is a perverse interpretation of the law as the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of Malaysia.

The ultimate powers in a parliamentary democracy rest with Parliament

The ultimate powers in a parliamentary democracy rest with Parliament, whether the parliamentary democracy has a written constitution or otherwise. In Britain, where there is no written constitution, it has always been said that Parliament reigns supreme. In Malaysia where there is a written constitution, Parliament still reigns supreme in that subject to the conditions laid down in the Federal Constitution, Parliament has the powers to amend the constitution. (See Federal Court decision in Rovin Joty Kodeeswaran v Lembaga Pencegahan Jenayah, Ors and Other Appeals [2021] 4 CLJ 1.)

The executive/cabinet is subservient to Parliament in that the formation of the cabinet is subject to the prime minister obtaining the majority support of the Dewan Rakyat. Article 43 (3) of the Federal Constitution also makes it plain and clear that the cabinet is collectively responsible (accountable) to Parliament. Nowhere in the Federal Constitution is it provided that Parliament may be suspended by the executive. The scope of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution dealing with an emergency is clear. Any powers exercised under this Article must be confined to and deal with the threat to the security, or the economic life or public order in the Federation. Therefore, Section 14(1) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 suspending Parliament is ultra vires Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.

An adjunct law professor with Universiti Malaya...

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