Johor Sultan can appoint mentri besar if requirement met: Expert

10 Apr 2019 / 21:31 H.

PETALING JAYA: The Sultan of Johor is authorised under the state constitution to appoint a person of his choice as mentri besar.

The condition is that the person must be a member of the state assembly who, in the sultan’s judgement, commands the confidence of the legislature, according to a constitutional law expert.

Assoc Prof Dr Shamrahayu A. Aziz, a constitutional law lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia, said that according to Article 4(2)(1) of the Johor Constitution, a person must be a member of the state assembly in order to be appointed by the ruler as mentri besar.

While another provision of the state constitution states that the mentri besar must be a Malay Muslim, the criteria can be dispensed with on the authority of the sultan.

Shamrahayu said this discretionary authority of the sultan was clearly provided for under Article 4(2)(a) which stated that the sultan “in his judgement” could appoint the mentri besar.

“According to Article 7(2)(b) of the Johor Constitution, His Majesty can also withhold his consent to a request for the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly,“ she added.

“That means the sultan can dissolve the state assembly in response to a request for its dissolution. However, according to convention or constitutional law practice, the request is made by the mentri besar,“ she said.

But, Shamrahayu said, since the constitution did not say that the sultan had the discretion to order a dissolution of the state assembly, it was therefore understood that this was not part of his discretionary powers.

“Therefore, His Majesty can act only upon request, not advice,“ she added.

Shamrahayu was commenting on a statement by the Tunku Mahkota Johor, Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, that the power to choose the mentri besar was the absolute right of the sultan.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had earlier stated that it was the ruling party’s right to choose the mentri besar, not the ruler’s.

The Twitter and verbal exchanges over the issue came on the heels of the recent resignation of Datuk Osman Sapian as Johor mentri besar. He had been under pressure from the palace to vacate the post.

Meanwhile, PKR said it would not be involved in the selection of the new mentri besar, preferring to leave the matter to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said it would not propose any candidate for the post “in the spirit of the PH convention”.

“Our understanding has always been that we keep to what have been negotiated (among the PH parties),“ he told reporters when met at the Parliament lobby, here today.

“The mentri besar of Johor (Osman) was from PPBM, so we will leave the matter to the wisdom of the prime minister (who is also PPBM chairman) and PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin,“ he added.

Anwar, who is Port Dickson MP, said PKR would agree to any candidate put forward by PPBM so long as the they were informed of the decision.

Mahathir had said that his party had identified several candidates to replace Osman, with Dr Sahruddin Jamal, the state executive councillor in charge of health, environment and agriculture, understood to be the front runner to succeed Osman.

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