Lawyer contradicts Mahathir

(FMT) – Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has the power to remove or transfer ministers to another portfolio and those dropped have no legal remedy, a lawyer said.

R Kengadharan said unlike judges and MPs, there is also no restriction on the number of Cabinet members.

“The prime minister has the discretion on the appointment and removal of his ministers,” he told FMT.

The lawyer cited a 2010 Federal Court ruling that only the prime minister has the power to appoint and revoke the appointment of Cabinet ministers.

A three-member bench had delivered the ruling when Anwar Ibrahim sought a declaration following his dismissal as deputy prime minister and finance minister by Mahathir in 1998.

Mahathir was Umno president and prime minister then when both parted ways due to a power tussle that led Anwar to be charged with abuse of power and sexual misconduct.

Kengadharan said this in response Mahathir’s statement on Thursday that there is “no room” for PKR president Anwar in his Cabinet at present.

“We are not having any change or any increase in the number of members of the Cabinet,” the PPBM chairman told reporters after chairing a party Supreme Council meeting at the Perdana Leadership Foundation.

Mahathir said there was no vacancy since no Cabinet members had volunteered to resign.

In May, the prime minister had said that while he would hand over the reins to Anwar as promised, no time frame had been given for the transfer of power.

Mahathir was asked if the time was ripe for Anwar to join his Cabinet, amid talk of a reshuffling of portfolios and calls to hasten the succession plan for Anwar to replace him.

After the 14th general election last year, the Pakatan Harapan coalition consisting of PKR, DAP, PPBM and Amanah swept into power, replacing Barisan Nasioanal.

The coalition had agreed on Mahathir to be made prime minister.

PKR, with 50 parliamentary seats, is the dominant party in the coalition, followed by DAP.

Kengadharan said Mahathir had the power to expand his Cabinet and there was no restriction on the numbers.

“This contrasts with the limitation imposed on the number of judges, MPs and senators,” he said.

He said it was pathetic for Mahathir to claim that Anwar could not be appointed just because no Cabinet members had offered to vacate their positions.

“Compared to most of the present ministers, Anwar has the experience in government administration as he was in Mahathir’s Cabinet for a long time until 1998,” he said.