Lawyer files suit over Agong's decision to deny PM's request for emergency

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 30): A lawyer has filed a lawsuit over Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah's recent decision to deny the prime minister's request for a proclamation of emergency.

Dr Syed Iskandar Syed Jaafar, 53, filed the suit at the High Court today, through Messrs R Kenghadaran & Co, naming the Malaysian government as the sole defendant.

He put forward two questions of constitutional and public importance, namely:
• whether on a true construction of Article 40 and 150 of the Federal Constitution, the Agong has an unfettered discretion not to declare an emergency despite the advice of the prime minister or Cabinet in the contrary; 
• whether Act 514 (Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994) which amended Article 150 by adding clauses (8) and (9) is violative of the basic structure of the constitution having regard to Article 4(1).

In his suit, Syed Iskandar cited Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's recent advice to Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Oct 23 for a proclamation of emergency, and the decision by the Conference of Rulers, that convened two days later, that an emergency was not necessary.

Syed Iskandar maintained that the suit is a public interest litigation to vindicate the rule of law and to uphold the Constitution.

Article 40 touches on the need by Yang di-Pertuan Agong to act upon the advice of the Cabinet, while Article 150 relates to the proclamation of emergency.

In a media statement, Syed Iskandar said his purpose of filing the suit is to ensure that anyone who becomes the prime minister will not be facing problems when dealing with those who are supposed to guard the Constitution when bills are sent for Royal assent.

"Although the bills will still become law after 60 days if they fail to obtain Royal assent, that will still be troublesome for any prime minister in undertaking his duties.

"Thus the exercise of power by the Agong must be done with caution. The Agong is supposed to be the guardian of the Federal Constitution, and not part of the executive. Hence, the court needs to determine the boundary so that the Agong will be discharging his role fairly without being influenced by anyone else, including senior officials working in Istana Negara," he said.

Syed Iskandar said the King needs to respect the government that is elected by the people, and not the government that arises out of sabotaging the democratic process.

Surin Murugiah