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#Malaysia2020: King has discretionary powers to choose PM, Cabinet

#Malaysia2020: King has discretionary powers to choose PM, Cabinet
YDPA has discretionary powers to choose PM, Cabinet
KUALA LUMPUR: The current political instability and shocking resignation of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister on Monday triggered shockwaves throughout the country.

Soon after  Dr Mahathir's resignation, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah decreed the appointment of Dr Mahathir as interim Prime Minister to lead the country temporarily.

The interim appointment has raised questions on the discretionary powers of the King over the appointment of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

Here are some things you should know regarding the powers of the King, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution:
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the power to delay or dissolve Parliament

According to advocate and solicitor, Datuk Setia Salehuddin Saidin, the King holds the power to suspend or dissolve Parliament is subject to Article 55 Clause (2) of the Federal Constitution.
However, he said, the question was whether Article 55 Clause (2) should be read together with Articles 40 and 43 of the Federal Constitution which mandates that power must come from the Prime Minister.

"If the majority cannot be determined and if not known, the King may exercise his authority as stipulated under Article 55 to dissolve Parliament," said on AWANI bulletin, on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, all Members of Parliament were summoned by Al-Sultan Abdullah to nominate a candidate for the position of Prime Minister in a private interview.

Elaborating further, Salehuddin added, should the Interim Prime Minister fail to secure a majority to form government, Article 55 to dissolve the Parliament can be triggered. That will make way for a general election.

"This situation has never happened before but based on the provisions in the Federal Constitution, the King may prorogue or dissolve Parliament."

"Reference to Table 8 in the Federal Constitution also states the same," he said.

The Agong has the power to elect and appoint a new Prime Minister

In accordance with Article 43 (2) (a) of the Federal Constitution, the King may appoint a Prime Minister from among the Members of Parliament, a candidate whom he considers command the majority support in the House of Representatives.

According to the Malaysian Bar President, Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor, although the election of an individual to hold the office of Prime Minister is subject to the support he or she receives from the House of Representatives, it still requires the King's discretion.

“The Prime Minister can be elected from among the members of the House of Representatives who commands the mandate or majority confidence.

"However, it is still at the discretion of the King," Abdul Fareed explained.

Meanwhile, Article 32 (1) states that there must be a Head of State for the Federal Government.

"The King shall be given priority over all persons in the Federation and shall not be subject to any proceedings in any court except in the Special Court established under Part XV," states Article 32 (1) in the Federal Constitution.

Article 39 of the Federal Executive Authority also states the King commands the right to delegate executive functions to others.

“Reserved by the King and subject to the provisions of any Federal Laws and the provisions of the Second Schedule, may be exercised by the Cabinet or any Minister authorised by the Cabinet to provide executive functions to others.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Federation

In Article 41 Supreme Commander, the King is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Federation.

In accordance with this, the King may exercise absolute discretion in deciding the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

“It should be noted that in the appointment of a new Prime Minister, the King has discretion based on:

a. Article 40 (2) which states the King may act at his sole discretion in performing the following functions, namely:

(i) appoint a Prime Minister;

(ii) does not approve the request for dissolution of Parliament; and

b. Article 43 (2) (b) which states the King shall appoint a member of the House of Representatives who has majority support of the members of the House of Representatives as the Prime Minister to preside over the Cabinet.