Najib, Zahid legally eligible to be appointed PM, say lawyers

Pekan MP Najib Razak and Bagan Datuk MP Ahmad Zahid Hamidi are eligible to be appointed prime minister even though their corruption cases are still pending in court, lawyers said.

(FMT) – A Srimurugan said it depends on whether one wants to accept the position and whether he has the support of at least 111 MPs.

Najib was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.

“Article 48(4)(b) of the Federal Constitution is clear that Najib can remain an MP until he exhausts his appeal in the Federal Court,” he said.

Srimurugan said Article 48(1)(e) of the constitution states that an elected representative is disqualified if he or she is convicted and sentenced to a jail term of two years or more and/or fined RM2,000 and more, and has not received a free pardon.

The Court of Appeal in April heard submissions from lawyers appearing for Najib and the public prosecutor. Judgment has been reserved.

Lawyer Muhammad Rafique Rashid Ali, however, doubted if Najib could go for the position as he had been found guilty and was on bail.

He said Zahid was eligible as he was only an accused person and his trial had yet to be concluded.

“In law, he is still innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

Zahid, who is the Umno president, is facing trial over 12 criminal breach of trust, eight corruption and 27 money laundering charges involving RM117 million belonging to Yayasan Akalbudi.

The High Court has set Aug 24 for lawyers to make oral submissions after the close of the prosecution case in March.

Yesterday, lawyer Bastian Pius Vendargon said an MP from the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government can be appointed prime minister to replace Muhyiddin Yassin, provided he wins a confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat.

Alternatively, he said, an opposition candidate who comes from a different alignment could be appointed if he had the numbers.

Vendargon said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can appoint the candidate as prime minister if the confidence motion succeeds.

Another route for appointment is for the King to rely on ‘extraneous methods’, a legal principle established in the Perak case.

This includes interviewing MPs and receiving statutory declarations or letters of support for the King to make a judgment call.

Lamag assemblyman Bung Moktar Radin was appointed Sabah deputy chief minister after the conclusion of the 16th state election last year although his corruption trial is ongoing.