Constitutional lawyer: Agong bound by law to appoint Pakatan PM designate

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a news conference in Petaling Jaya May 10, 2018. — Reuters pic
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a news conference in Petaling Jaya May 10, 2018. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — The Agong is constitutionally bound to appoint Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the nation’s seventh prime minister, Surendra Ananth, co-chairperson of the Bar Council’s Constitutional Law Committee, said today.

He said the Constitution does not confer the Agong wide discretionary power to reject Dr Mahathir’s candidacy, and that this discretionary power is only limited to determining who within the coalition is the leader.

“The starting point is the appointment of the PM and the YDPA is constitutionally bound to appoint a person “who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of that House”,” Surendra said in a statement. 

“Most might think that this confers him with wide discretion.

“It does not. His discretion is only limited to determining who within the coalition (who has now formed the majority) is the leader.”

The Agong may not choose a candidate from outside that coalition, he added.

The federal Opposition coalition led by Dr Mahathir stunned the nation by securing a historic victory against the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition at the polls yesterday, collecting just enough federal seats to form a new government through a simple majority.

PH’s final seat tally was 113 while its Sabah-based ally Warisan won eight of the 222 contested seats. BN won 79.

PH have four component party members — PKR, PPBM, DAP and Amanah.

Dr Mahathir, at 93 years of age, is the four-party pact chairman and prime minister designate.

Surendra argues that there should be no hindrance to Dr Mahathir’s appointment as the new premier.

He said his comments were his personal views and did not represent the Malaysian Bar's views.

The Palace has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.

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