Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad apologised today for amending the Federal Constitution by removing the need for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s signature and approval in lawmaking.
The former prime minister stressed, however, that the amendment did not apply to all legislations and that some laws passed by Parliament would still require the King’s express consent and signature, such as the controversial National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 that came into force earlier this month.
“The consent and signature is still needed if the Act impinges on the authority and position of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“And the National Security Act certainly impinges and makes the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to declare a state of emergency superfluous and unnecessary. For this Act the assent and signature of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong remains necessary,” Dr Mahathir wrote on his blog.
He also said there are more than 30 proceedings in the Federal Constitution that require the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s approval without the prime minister’s advice, including the right to declare an emergency.
Critics of the NSC Act, which grants the government sweeping emergency powers, have criticised Putrajaya for pushing the law through without receiving express royal assent.
Dr Mahathir argued that the NSC Act made the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s “sole” right to declare an emergency redundant and that that power was now given to the prime minister as chairman of the National Security Council, which according to the law, can take command of security forces and impose strict policing of areas deemed to face security risks.
Dr Mahathir pointed out that according to Article 150(1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can issue an emergency proclamation if he is satisfied that a “grave emergency” exists.
“There is no mention in this case that the Agong acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong can even promulgate an ordinance which shall have the same force as an Act of Parliament.
“There is therefore no necessity for any other laws to enable the government to suspend laws in order to deal with a security situation,” said the fourth prime minister who served for 22 years, the country’s longest.
Dr Mahathir added that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can refer to the Federal Court on the legality of the NSC Act, citing Article 130 of the Federal Constitution that states that the King can refer to the apex court for an opinion on the effect of any provision of the constitution.
“Clearly when the government ignores the request of the Rulers and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to revise the NSC Act, it is not complying with the Constitution as amended. This being so the National Security Act cannot become law,” he said.
The Malay Mail Online