Discretion of the monarch in choice of MB
The golden rule “is not to draw the monarch into controversy or political negotiations”, says Gurdial Singh Nijar.
The Selangor menteri besar imbroglio has been decisively solved by His Royal Highness, but only partially – with the resignation of the incumbent MB.
Resignation of the MB implies as well the resignation of the entire executive committee.
The question of dissolving the Selangor assembly and calling for snap elections is no longer a live issue.
All that remains now is for the sultan to appoint a new MB.
His Highness has requested for each component party of PR to supply more than two nominees from PR for consideration. This means three names in total.
The statement from the palace clarifies that this is based on existing conventional practice.
The Selangor Constitution mirrors identical provisions of the Federal Constitution.
The Federal Constitution is based on the UK Westminster model. Hence it may be instructive to reflect on the practice that obtains in UK in the choice of a Prime Minister when the existing PM resigns.
Then, say constitutional authorities of repute (Turpin & Tomkins, British Government and the Constitution, 2011):
In reality, the Queen’s prerogative is governed by the fundamental constitutional convention grounded in political necessity, that she must appoint as PM the man or woman who can form a government which will have the confidence of the House.
Normally this convention clearly indicates the party leader who, having majority support in the House, has an indisputable claim to beappointed.
In cases where parties have their own arrangement or procedures for electing a successor, “there is no room for the exercise of discretion by the Queen”.
The golden rule “is not to draw the monarch into controversy or political negotiations”.
On the exercise of discretion by the Perak Sultan, the Federal Court in the Perak MB case (Nizar v Zambry) said:
His Royal Highness must appoint someone who has the command and confidence of the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly.
In the present case, there is no doubt that Zambry has the majority support of the members of the Legislative Assembly. He has the support of 31 members from 59 members of the Legislative Assembly.
The Selangor Constitution provides for a reference to the Federal Court for its opinion any question as to the effect of any provision of the Constitution which has arisen or appears to Him to be likely to arise: Article 95(2).
The reference is to be made by His Highness. – August 26, 2014.
Gurdial Singh Nijar is a professor in the law faculty of the University of Malaya.