Nazri: Choice of PM is sole discretion of the King

Posted by Penarik Beca Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Sun (25/2/09): The choice of the Prime Minister of Malaysia is at the sole discretion of the King and not to be disputed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat today.

This is in accordance to Article 40(2) of the Federal Constitutiuon, Nazri said in response to a question from Gobind Singh Deo (DAP-Puchong) who asked if the government would abolish the present system of choosing the PM and employ a system where the people of all races can choose the PM like in the United States.

Nazri said Malaysia goes by the constitutional monarchy and democratic parliamentary system modeled after the Westminster in the United Kingdom.

"Our Prime Minister is a member of the Dewan Rakyat who commands authority over the majority members of the House, and in Malaysia’s case, the leader of Parti Perikatan now known as Barisan Nasional has been administering the country since independence," he said.

"We have a different system from the Americans, which allows citizens to vote for their president directly every four years. Usually presidents of nations are elected directly but this is not the same case for a Prime Minister.

In the present system in Malaysia, voters know that their ballot indirectly determines the Prime Minister coming into power.

This system is one encompassed in the Federal Constitution and not based on decision of the Executive arm or the government.

“Therefore any attempts to change this system have to go through Parliament.”

Following that an argument ensued when Gobind asked if there were mechanisms to ensure that the candidates for PM are free of any doubts or scandals.

Raising allegations against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s alleged link to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder, Gobind said he had not been investigated despite being a key witness in the case.

“This was acknowledged by investigating officer Supt Gan Tack Guan during the sedition trial of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, and Gan is incidentally also the investigating officer for the Altantuya murder,” Gobind said as BN backbenchers protested noisily.

Nazri replied: “In Malaysia, a person is innocent until proven guilty in court. So in this case what is raised is merely speculation.”

“Speculation, rumours and allegations cannot influence our decision which has to be based on strong evidence against an individual,” he said.

"According to Article 40(2) of the Federal Constitution the King can accept or reject the candidate for Prime Minister. Matters of appointment of the Prime Minister depends on the King's decision and if the King decides to accept Pekan MP (Najib) as Prime Minister then it is not our responsibility to dispute it," he added.

Mohd Nor Othman (BN-Hulu Terengganu) then said Gobind’s question on whether the PM can be elected directly by the people was an infringement of the Constitution and denies the King’s right to appoint the PM.

Nazri replied: “This is their problem, they are fighting for ketuanan rakyat (people’s power) where the rakyat is to replace the monarchy."

"When we talk about Malay supremacy we are not saying that the Malays are more powerful than the Chinese or Indians- we are acknowledging that the Kings and Sultans are heads of their respective states," he said.

Raising a point of Order, Gobind then accused Nazri of insinuating that the Pakatan Rakyat wants to overthrow the Kings and Sultans and accused him of evoking uneasiness amongst the races, raising the fury of back benchers again.

Deputy Speaker Ronald Kiandee then interrupted saying that he did not think it was the minister’s intention to incite anyone and allowed Nazri to continue answering the questions raised.

BN accuses Pakatan of wanting a republic

Malaysian Insider (25/2/09): Barisan Nasional (BN) members of parliament today accused Pakatan Rakyat (PR) of wanting to establish a republic by suggesting direct elections for the prime minister’s post.

The matter arose after Gobind Singh Deo (DAP- Puchong) suggested in parliament today direct elections for prime minister “just as in the United States”.

Mohd Nor Othman (BN - Hulu Terengganu), said that such a suggestion would result in presidential elections which he argued would in effect replace the King as head of state.

“We know the Malaysian system is different from the US. Here we have the King and the US has its president. The suggestions to follow the US system means denying the King as head of state. Is this an effort (by PR) to compromise the constitution?”

De facto law minister Nazri agreed with Mohd Nor and said that that was the difference between BN and PR as the latter is championing ketuanan rakyat, or supremacy of the people, while BN was championing ketuanan Melayu, or Malay supremacy.

“Ketuanan Melayu does not mean that Malays are stronger than Chinese or Indians,” said Nazri.

“It means that the Malay rulers are the heads of the states. I hope we do not question the power of the King because if we want to elect the prime minister directly, it means we do not want the system we have today.”

PR lawmakers immediately objected to his remarks with Khalid Samad (PAS - Shah Alam) clarifying that PR was not suggesting that the King be replaced with a president and saying that direct elections for prime minister can be aligned with the present framework.

Gobind also accused the BN parliamentarians of sedition for saying that PR wanted to replace the King.

BN has been trying to paint PR as anti-monarchy ever since ousted Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin refused a request by the Sultan of Perak to resign.

Umno, in particular, has been vocal about the issue, and have accused PR leaders of treason.

Earlier, Nazri’s reply to Gobind’s original question was that the present system had served the country well and people indirectly elected the prime minister who is the head of the winning party.

Gobind disagreed, arguing that the prime minister needs the confidence of the majority of the public and that a mechanism was needed to prevent tainted candidates from assuming office.

“Pekan’s member of parliament will become prime minister even though he has terrible scandals and is involved in a murder case,” said Gobind, referring to persistent talk linking Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

“This is clear when the investigating officer Gan said that he (Najib) was an important witness in the case. What measures are there in the government to ensure such candidates do not become eligible (for prime minister) in Malaysia?”

Why PM is not directly elected

The Star (26/2/09): Pakatan Rakyat has been accused of trying to replace the King’s role when it suggested that the Prime Minister should be directly elected.

Gobind Singh Deo (DAP - Puchong) had asked why Malaysia did not allow its people to directly elect their prime minister “like what is done in the United States”.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abd Aziz replied that Malaysia practised the constitutional monarchy, adding that the country’s democracy system was based on the Westminster model.

“Selecting a leader directly is the process to elect presidents and not prime ministers. The current system practised in Malaysia is enshrined in the Constitution and not a decision made by the Executives,” he said, adding that under the Federal Constitution, the King had his discretion in appointing the Prime Minister.

At one point, Nazri, replying to Mohd Nor Othman ( BN - Hulu Terengganu), said the problem with Pakatan MPs’ move in championing Ketuanan Rakyat (people’s supremacy) was that the people would end up replacing the King.

“When we talk about the Malay supremacy (Ketuanan Melayu), it is not about having Malays being stronger than the Chinese or Indians. This is in relation to having Sultans as head of states. So, I hope we do not question the role of the King here.

“When the Prime Minister is elected directly, does it not mean we do not want our current system - which is having the King appointing the Prime Minister?” he asked.

This prompted Khalid Abd Samad (PAS - Shah Alam) to stand up, citing Point of Order 36 (12) that the minister was misleading the House.

Urging Nazri to withdraw his remark, Khalid objected, saying that Nazri was making inference that opposition MPs wanted to abolish the constitutional monarchy.

“I urged the minister to retract. No one wants to take over the King’s role,” he said, in the midst of shouting by backbenchers.

Khalid also noted that Pakatan had put out a joint declaration in support of Federal Constitution and the constitutional monarchy.

At one point, Gobind Singh stood on a point of order, accusing Nazri of uttering words promoting ill-feelings in his reply.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee, who was presiding, ruled in favour of Nazri, pointing out that the remarks in question did not promote ill-feelings.

Raja Petra sedition trial: Why Najib was not questioned

NST (11/2/09): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was not questioned in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder investigations as he was not involved in the case, a police officer told the Sessions court yesterday.

Superintendent Gan Tack Guan, formerly from the Kuala Lumpur Serious Crimes Division, said there was no need to record Najib's statement as investigations had revealed that the deputy prime minister was not involved in the Mongolian woman's murder.

Gan said this was based on the initial murder investigations conducted by the investigating officer Assistant Superintendent Tony Lunggan.

"If he (Najib) was not involved, why should he be called in for questioning?" Gan responded during cross-examination by counsel Gobind Singh Deo yesterday.

The police officer was testifying in the trial of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin who was charged with posting a seditious article titled, Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell, on his website.
The alleged offence was committed at his house in Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh, on April 25. The article also implicated Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in Altantuya's murder.

Gan, who is now head of Interpol at the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman, is the fifth prosecution witness to take the stand. He is also the complainant in this case.

Yesterday, he disagreed with counsel that police did not record Najib's statement as "they had no guts to question the DPM".

Gobind: I put it to you that the reason you did not question Najib in this case is because the police knew for a fact that he was involved in the murder and had no guts to reveal this in their probe.

Gan: I disagree.

He further disagreed that the decision to lodge a police report against Raja Petra was politically motivated.

Gan testified that some of the contents in the alleged article were unfounded, but disagreed when told that the writer was telling the truth when he wrote the article.

Judge Rozina Ayob adjourned the case to tomorrow after being informed that Raja Petra was due at the Federal Court today for another matter.


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