Go to court, not King, over Melaka state assembly dissolution, say lawyers

PETALING JAYA : The assemblymen opposing the recent dissolution of the Melaka state assembly should challenge the matter in court instead of asking the King to annul it, two lawyers said.

Constitutional expert Bastian Pius Vendargon said the Melaka constitution stipulates that only the governor could decide whether or not to dissolve the state assembly on the advice of the chief minister.

The state opposition, however, could argue that because the chief minister had lost the majority, he could no longer dispense such advice.

“This issue must therefore be left to the court to determine. If the court accepts the issue is justiciable, then it is open to adjudication by the court.

“As such, I see no relevance to refer the matter to the King,” he told FMT.

However, A Surendra Ananth said if the dissolution had not been gazetted, it was still possible for the governor to withdraw the announcement.

Otherwise, the “best option” would be for the aggrieved party to go to court.

Philip Koh, an adjunct professor at Universiti Malaya, said there is no constitutional power to annul a dissolution, hence to appeal to any authority is “without legal basis”.

And even if there was, in Melaka’s case, the jurisdiction would lie with the governor as it was a state matter.

“The Agong is a constitutional monarch and His Majesty’s authority is governed by the Federal Constitution. Generally, the Agong has no jurisdiction over state matters.”

Koh went on to say that once the governor dissolves the state assembly, “the matter takes its course in accordance with the state constitution.”

Governor Mohd Ali Rustam dissolved the state assembly on Tuesday after the four assemblymen withdrew their support for the chief minister. (Bernama pic)

The only exception, he added, was for the King – under the advice of the prime minister and Cabinet – to declare a State of Emergency and promulgate an ordinance suspending the state election.

Earlier today, it was reported that the Melaka Pakatan Harapan and four assemblymen who had retracted support for chief minister Sulaiman Md Ali had sent a letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over the dissolution of the state assembly.

The group wants the King to advise the Melaka governor to withdraw his decision to dissolve the state assembly.

Governor Mohd Ali Rustam dissolved the state assembly on Tuesday after the four assemblymen had withdrawn their support for Sulaiman, leaving his government with only 13 seats in the 28-seat assembly.

By : Sean Augustin – FMT

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