King alone makes the call if Emergency needs extension, says ex-AG

(FMT) – The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, must be personally satisfied whether the ongoing Emergency should be extended or otherwise, a former attorney-general said.

Abu Talib Othman said Article 150 of the Federal Constitution states that the King can make a declaration if he is satisfied that a grave emergency exists when the country’s security, economic life or public order is threatened.

“The issue before the King is what is the right decision and not what is right,” he told FMT today in response to the monarch granting an audience to Arifin Zakaria, chairman of the government’s special emergency committee.

Arifin’s audience comes after the King met leaders of 15 political party leaders from Wednesday up till yesterday to discuss the Emergency and measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also reportedly set to meet the King today is Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Sultan Abdullah will chair a special meeting with his fellow Rulers tomorrow.

Abu Talib, who was the attorney-general between 1980 and 1993, said the King was entitled to meet and consult anyone to help him to make the right decision.

“It is his judgment call whether to extend the Emergency beyond Aug 1,” he said, adding that the King had taken the right steps to be personally satisfied about the present circumstances.

Arifin, a former chief justice, heads the committee which involves government and opposition MPs as well as experts in public health, security, law, public administration and business sectors.

The committee is tasked with advising the King on the Covid-19 situation and on when the Emergency should end.

On Sunday, de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan said the government would advise the King but would leave it to the monarch’s discretion to decide on extending the Emergency.

Last week, both Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu were quoted as saying that they had proposed to the King not to extend the Emergency and reopen Parliament.

On tomorrow’s meeting, Abu Talib merely said the King is the representative of the Malay Rulers.

“It is an informal meeting as the governors of Sabah, Sarawak, Melaka, and Penang will not be present. The King and the Rulers will also not be accompanied by the prime minister and mentris besar,” he added.