Melaka political crisis: Pakatan Harapan says governor broke precedent by dissolving state assembly

KUALA LUMPUR : Melaka Governor Mohd Ali Rustam has violated precedent by dissolving the state assembly following the exodus of four assemblymen from the ruling coalition, said Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s presidential council. 

In a statement on Wednesday (Oct 6), the opposition bloc said then PH chief minister Adly Zahari’s advice to dissolve the Melaka state assembly in 2020 was not accepted once he had lost the majority.

In the power struggle in Melaka following the change of government at the federal level last year, an assemblyman from the rival United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party, Mr Sulaiman Md Ali, took over days later as the chief minister.

“(Mr Mohd Ali’s decision) is also not aligned with the Federal Court precedent in the case of Nizar Jamaluddin against Zambry Abdul Kadir in which the majority support could be determined outside the state legislative assembly,” the council said, referring to the 2009 landmark decision regarding Perak’s chief ministership. 

Melaka political crisis: Pakatan Harapan says governor broke precedent by dissolving state assembly
Melaka Chief Minister’s Department. (File photo: Bernama)

PH comprises Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO).

The Melaka state assembly was dissolved on Monday after UMNO’s Sungai Udang assemblyman and former chief minister Idris Haron led three other assemblymen in withdrawing their support for Mr Sulaiman. 

PH said in the statement that Mr Mohd Ali, the governor, had dissolved the state legislative assembly based on wrong advice from Mr Sulaiman.  

It said that according to the Melaka state constitution, Mr Sulaiman had lost his position and eligibility to advise the governor when the four assemblymen withdrew their support for him.

“The governor should have examined and followed the state constitution, and met with the 15 assemblymen – the party with a majority – before making any decision,” PH said.

The opposition leadership expressed its regret that the action of dissolving the Melaka state assembly had opened the road for a state election to be held, which would threaten the lives of citizens when the COVID-19 pandemic was not fully under control. 

A proclamation of the dissolution was gazetted and handed over to the Election Commission on Tuesday. 

While the constitution stipulates that a state election has to be held within 60 days from the date of dissolution, there have been concerns about holding polls amid the pandemic.    

There are 28 seats in the Barisan Nasional-led Melaka state assembly.

Mr Sulaiman, the incumbent chief minister, is backed by 12 UMNO assemblymen and one state lawmaker from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

The 15 assemblymen in the opposition bloc comprises 11 from Pakatan Harapan and those who withdrew their support for Mr Sulaiman.

Melaka state assembly in session. (File photo: Bernama)

Mr Idris was Melaka’s chief minister from 2013 to 2018. 

PH took over the state administration after winning 15 out of 28 seats in the 2018 general election, with Mr Adly serving as the chief minister. 

However, with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leaving PH to cooperate with Barisan Nasional in February 2020, the PH state government had lost its slim majority.  

Mr Sulaiman was subsequently sworn in as the next chief minister before then governor Mohd Khalil Yaakob. 

By : Vincent Tan – CNA

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