Tuesday, March 8, 2016

For now, Najib’s fate in the hands of 222 MPs, says ex-A-G

Despite the signing of the "Citizens' Declaration" calling for Datuk Seri Najib Razak's removal, it is the 222 members of Parliament who can decide the prime minister's fate, says former attorney-general (A-G) Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman. He said those who signed the declaration were merely stating their personal desire to see Najib removed, which in itself was not against any law, but that was as far as they could go at the moment. The real power to remove Najib, he said, rested on the 222 MPs – 135 from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and 87 opposition. He said there Najib can be removed either by a no-confidence vote when Parliament is in session, or by making a representation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong when Dewan Rakyat is not in session. Alternatively, the prime minister steps down from office on his own volition, he adds. "These are the three legally permissible means to remove Najib," Abu Talib, the A-G between 1980 and 1993, told The Malaysian Insider. Abu Talib said those who was part of the March 4 declaration would not be breaking any law as long as they sought non-provocative and non-violent means. He said the public could not do much at the moment except to offer support to the core group, and they could have a direct say on the matter at the next general election, due in 2018. Until then, Abu Talib said voters could meet their MPs to complain about the prime minister but this had its limitations. "They can express their opinions to their elected representatives but the question is whether the MPs will listen." Abu Talib (pic, right) said it was within the law for people to express their opinion that Najib should step down, but this must be done using non-violent and non provocative means. BN politicians had said those who signed the "Citizens' Declaration" should wait until the next general election if they wanted to see Najib removed. Former prime minister Tun Dr Dr Mahathir Mohamad and more than 40 others had last Friday signed the declaration, urging Malaysians to join them in removing Najib through non-violent and legally permissible means. "Najib can be unseated in accordance with the democratic system as reflected in the Federal Constitution," said Abu Talib. No prime minister in Malaysia was forced to vacate his office through a vote of confidence in the Dewan Rakyat. Abu Talib said making a representation to the king in the event the prime minister no longer enjoyed their support was a precedent adopted in the Perak political crisis. In 2009, then Perak menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was ousted after three state representatives declared themselves BN-friendly independents. As a result, the political equation then stood at 31 for BN and 28 for the 10-month-old Pakatan Rakyat government. The late Sultan Azlan Shah had then refused to dissolve the state assembly as advised by Nizar, and instead appointed Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir as the menteri besar. The Federal Court in 2010 ruled that the loss of confidence in the menteri besar need not only be established through a vote in the legislative assembly. It went on to say that the ruler could determine the loss of confidence in the menteri besar or prime minister from other extraneous sources. Abu Talib said similarly, Kedah menteri besar, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir was removed from office when only 17 of the 36 assemblymen expressed their support before the three-man rulers' council. With the exception of second prime minister Tun Razak Hussein (1970-1976) who died while in office, all others vacated their position in a peaceful transition. Najib is being pressured to leave over allegations linked to the RM2.6 billion "donation", and the RM42 million which flowed into his personal bank accounts. On January 26, A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Najib of any wrongdoing citing lack of evidence to charge him. – March 9, 2016.]]>

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