Sultan’s powers in Johor housing board bill against constitutional monarchy, says law expert

Empowering the Johor sultan to get involved in state administration is not in line with the country’s constitutional monarchy system, a constitutional expert has said in response to the Johor housing board bill. — Bernama pic
Empowering the Johor sultan to get involved in state administration is not in line with the country’s constitutional monarchy system, a constitutional expert has said in response to the Johor housing board bill. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — Empowering the Johor sultan to get involved in state administration is not in line with the country’s constitutional monarchy system, a constitutional expert has said in response to the Johor housing board bill.

Dr Abdul Aziz Bari was reported by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia today as saying that it is the government that is responsible for all state administrative matters, except for religious affairs.

“In Malaysia, we practise the constitutional monarchy, so if the king is given powers, then it’s a different story altogether,” Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying.

“For example, in the federal government, if the sultan has powers, then what about the prime minister’s role? That’s why in that system, the king is seated at the top and has powers over religious affairs, but state administration is not His Majesty’s job,” he added.

The constitutional expert pointed out that in the country’s parliamentary democracy, people’s representatives are elected through the ballot box.

“If their governance is flawed, who should be held responsible? That’s the issue here now,” he said.

News portal Malaysiakini reported last Wednesday that the Johor government will table an enactment in the state legislative assembly on Monday to form a housing and real property board that will give the Johor sultan the power to appoint the board members, dissolve the board and oversee its accounts.

The Johor Housing and Real Property Board Bill 2014 reportedly aims to create a board that will undertake and promote the development of real property and housing in Johor.

According to Malaysiakini, the bill also aims to empower the sultan to determine the remuneration of board members, to approve the appointment of a director, and to pass the estimated expenses for each following year before submitting for the state government’s approval for the allocations.

Johor state assembly opposition leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau was quoted by the news portal as saying that the housing board bill was “regressive and unhealthy”, as the powers given to the sultan were against the spirit of the state constitution.