Sultan has final say over Johor snap polls, says lawyer

The Sultan of Johor has the final say on whether the state legislature will be dissolved and snap elections held, a lawyer said.

(FMT) – Bastian Pius Vendargon said that under the state constitution, only the menteri besar, in his capacity as the head of the executive, can approach the ruler to request for a dissolution.

“As stated under the Second Part of Article 7, the Sultan has the discretion whether to accept the menteri besar’s request to dissolve the legislature,” he told FMT.

Vendargon said this in response to a statement by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that he will leave it to the state government to decide whether snap polls should take place.

“Let the state government decide. If menteri besar Hasni Mohammad feels that there is a need for state elections, then they need to have an audience with the Johor sultan.

“The decision rests fully with the state government,” he told reporters after launching an agri-commodity event in Putrajaya.

Vendargon said that according to the federal and state constitutions, the heads of state are to act on the advice of the head of government (the prime minister, the menteri besar or the chief minister).

“However, heads of state have discretion when it comes to, among others, the dissolution of the legislature and appointment of the head of government,” he said.

Johor Umno chief Hasni was sworn in as the menteri besar after the Pakatan Harapan government was toppled following the Sheraton Move in early 2020, taking over from Bersatu’s Sahruddin Jamal.

On Monday, Hasni, who is also the Johor Umno head, said the party had not held any discussions about the state elections.

However, he admitted that the government was “more unstable” after its state assembly majority was reduced to one following the death of Kempas assemblyman Osman Sapian on Dec 21.

The Barisan Nasional-led state government now has 28 seats, while Pakatan Harapan has 27.

The five-year term of the state assembly will only come to an end in the middle of next year.