Will Perak snap?

Shad says there have been high-profile instances when rulers have denied requests to dissolve state assemblies in situations of political gridlock, namely Sabah in 1994 and Kelantan in 1978.

By Shanon Shah and Zedeck Siew
[email protected], [email protected]

THE silver state is in crisis, with the Pakatan Raykat-led state government having lost its majority in the legislative assembly with four assemblypersons leaving its fold.

Now, with the Perak government in limbo, experts tell The Nut Graph that the best option for the formation of a state government is via snap elections.

"Once a mandate is lost, fresh elections are called to get a new mandate from the voters. Both sides can compete for the new mandate," says Southeast Asian political expert Prof Dr James Chin of Monash University.

Chin adds that this is an accepted view amongst all Commonwealth democracies which use the Westminster form of government.

Constitutional law expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi agrees. Shad says: “In my personal view at the moment, some elected representatives’ loyalties seem to be in self-interest more than anything else, with party-hopping happening this way and that.” He adds that it would be best to leave the rakyat to decide on the state government by a vote.

Shad, however, says there are serious considerations for snap elections to be called.

"In the current economic climate, what kind of costs would a snap election incur? There might also be no clear-cut results," Shad explains. He cites India as an example, where three elections were held in less than five years, because of political stalemate and unclear election outcomes.

Since the Perak state elections were held a mere 10 months ago, the Sultan might therefore consider it too soon to hold snap elections. Nevertheless in countries such as Japan, India and the UK, snap elections have been called even within a few months of a new government being elected into power due to political deadlocks or stalemates.

"In my opinion, calling for snap elections is the least controversial way of asking people to decide on their government in a democracy," says Shad.

Bota assemblyperson Datuk
Nasaruddin Hashim

Furthermore, Chin dismisses Perak Umno liaison committee and state Barisan Nasional (BN) chairperson Datuk Seri Najib Razak's claim that the three newly-independent state assemblypersons and returning Bota representative give the BN a governing mandate.

Shad, on the hand, says the constitution does not stipulate that the majority commanded in the state assembly needs to be from the same coalition or party. Rather, the government only requires the support or confidence of the majority in the assembly.

"Now, Najib has to prove to the Sultan that the BN commands this confidence, and it is up to the Sultan to test it," says Shad.

Satisfying the Ruler

According to Shad, neither state nor federal constitutions stipulate how the Ruler needs to be satisfied that a government commands the confidence of the legislature's majority. The Ruler can be convinced in a variety of ways.

Read more at: http://www.thenutgraph.com/will-perak-snap