Perak – A Failed Democracy

From a legal point of view I was made to understand that the power of the Sultan to disallow the dissolution of the state assembly is a grey area. What is obvious is the Sultan does not have the power in to dismiss the serving Menteri Besar other than through a vote of no-confidence.

Another grey area is whether the Sultan should accede to the request by the Menteri Besar to dissolve the assembly or can act on his own prerogative whether to allow it or not.

I am not a legal specialist. For more, read Malik's article here. However, as a legal expert the Royal Highness should understand that what is legal may not necessarily be moral or democratic. Taking a full legal consideration to allow the installation of the BN government in Perak has confirmed the Sultan's oversight on important elements such as democracy, morality and stability of the state government.

There are 3 grounds which I found the Sultan to have erred in his decision.

First, it is obvious that he did not weigh the sustainability and stability of the new government through the backdoor. On this ground, the popularly elected state PR government was brought down not through a democratic mean but through defections of its members to the opposition.

Legally, the constitution provided for a freedom for association but this freedom is not absolute. We need to study this freedom of association in the context of a state or federal government. Malaysia practices party politics and most of its elected members are linked to political parties. The ruling coalitions are made up of political parties.

Hence, it is not democratic to allow for any defections which may easily threaten the stability of an elected government. Moreover, the three assemblymen who defected did not give any public explanation to justify their decision to defect. They even lured the public to believe that they were busy with their respective commitments.

Next, the Sultan has failed to conduct a test of character on the 3 defectors who are key to the change of government. If a test of character is conducted, the 3 assemblymen would have a problem to justify their defections. Firstly, two of the three are facing corruption charges and are due to face the court on Feb 10. If found guilty, they will have to vacate their seats.

Hence, it is obvious that even the new BN government supported mainly by the 3 assemblymen is not stable. Then, it is the interest of the Sultan to ensure that such probability of an unstable government should not be allowed to exist. The Royal Highness should have appointed a caretaker government, at the very least, before their cases are called and argued in court. The assembly speaker has filed a case against the 3 defectors claiming that they have resigned. This case should be allowed to go to the court too.