The Yang di Pertuan Agong cannot seek legal opinion from the Federal Court on the controversial National Security Council Act as he must follow the advice of the Cabinet, a retired judge said.
Gopal Sri Ram said Article 40 the Federal Constitution prevented the Agong to act alone as he was a constitutional monarch.
“He could only act on the advice of the Cabinet or a minister,” said Sri Ram, a retired Federal Court judge, to FMT.
He said this in response to a blog posting yesterday by former group editor of the New Straits Times Press, A Kadir Jasin, that former Premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad believed that the king could refer the constitutionality of the law to the apex court for a legal opinion under Article 130.
That article states that the king may refer to the Federal Court for its opinion on any question as to the effect of any provision of the constitution.
Sri Ram, who is now practising law, said the king had limited discretion and this included the appointment of the prime minister and the withholding of consent to request the dissolution of Parliament.
He said it was doubtful the Cabinet would want to refer the NSC Act to the highest court in the land for its opinion.
The NSC Act which, among others, allows the government to hold emergency powers, came into force on Aug 1 although it did not receive express royal assent and was gazetted without amendments.
The Conference of Rulers in February, however, expressed its reservation on some of the provisions and wanted it to be refined.
Sri Ram said any challenge to the NSC Act should be done in the High Court.
Former Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has filed a lawsuit that seeks to strike down the NSC Act on grounds that the king’s assent was required for the passing of the said security law.
Anwar claimed that Article 66 (4A) which permits a parliamentary bill to automatically become law 30 days after it is presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong regardless of whether he assents to it or not, was unconstitutional.
Attorney-General Apandi Ali, who is chief legal adviser to the government, has filed an objection that the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
Hearing is scheduled for Oct 14.