‘If ruler refuses request, Perak MB must quit’

(NST) KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was deemed to have resigned as menteri besar once the Sultan of Perak refused his request to dissolve the legislative assembly. 

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail told the High Court yesterday that Nizar had gone to meet the sultan on Feb 4 to dissolve the house when he no longer commanded the majority of the assemblymen.

"It is the prerogative of the sultan to grant a dissolution.

"If the ruler refuses, the menteri besar must resign," he said in his submission before judge Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim over the issue of who is the rightful chief executive of Perak.

Gani, who is appearing in his personal capacity as intervener, said the Barisan Nasional had a clear majority of 31 seats in the assembly.

He said Nizar had found out that his government no longer commanded the majority support and that was why he sought an audience with the sultan to dissolve the house.

"The sultan enquired whether Nizar had lost the majority and then exercised his discretionary powers," he said.

At this juncture, Aziz asked Gani whether there was a provision in the Perak Constitution for the ruler to remove a menteri besar.

Gani said it was implied that a menteri besar must resign as the sovereign could not remove him.

"The Constitution must be interpreted as a living document. The sultan cannot sack him (Nizar) but the honourable way is to resign once he has lost the majority."

Gani said the sultan did not sack Nizar but the law automatically deemed that he had vacated his position and this paved the way for the ruler to appoint a new menteri besar.

In early February, the 10-month Pakatan Rakyat government collapsed following the defection of two Parti Keadilan Rakyat assemblymen and a DAP assemblywoman who threw their support behind BN which had 28 representatives.

Pangkor assemblymen Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir was appointed menteri besar and Nizar is now challenging the appointment because he did not resign or lose a confidence vote in the assembly.

Gani said the Perak constitution did not expressly allow for the house to be dissolved due to political reasons and the sultan merely carried out his constitutional duty.

"The sultan stands above politics and is non-partisan. He performed his function in an honourable way to protect the rights of the people under the Constitution," he said.

Counsel Sulaiman Abdullah, who is representing Nizar, submitted that Gani's argument was flawed that Nizar had lost the confidence of the majority.

"Nizar requested for the dissolution to get a fresh mandate from the people," Sulaiman said, adding the test whether Nizar had lost the majority support of the assemblymen was to be decided in the house.

"It has to be demonstrated through a vote of no-confidence in the assembly."

Hearing continues.