KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) can gamble on the move that triggered the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis if the pact wants to end the Selangor mentri besar crisis ahead of the next assembly sitting, constitutional law experts have said.
With the next state legislative assembly only due to sit in November, a motion of no confidence to remove Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor mentri besar may have to wait until then, prolonging the crisis in the state administration.
But PR need not wait that long, according to the legal experts, as its assemblymen can demonstrate their lack of confidence in beleaguered Khalid outside the House..
“The ball is in PR’s court, really. They must establish either through the House or otherwise, that he doesn’t have the support.
“Only then can they set the gears in motion to remove Khalid,” civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan told Malay Mail Online.
Syahredzan suggested that this can be established through “extraneous means”, which include a statutory declaration, a letter, or even a direct audience with the Sultan of Selangor.
“They can do it anytime; what matters is they have the numbers. They can do it tomorrow,” said Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, when asked how soon PR assemblymen could move to oust Khalid.
The Selangor University (Unisel) law lecturer also concurred with Syahredzan, saying that the display of no confidence can be done outside the House to show that the majority is not with Khalid.
“This is enough to give Khalid and the palace the signal,” he added.
But the move against a mentri besar outside the state assembly raises the spectre of the Perak crisis, as Syahredzan himself noted the precedent set by the case.
The Perak crisis was triggered in February 2009 after three PR assemblymen defected, causing the state government to collapse.
BN then formed the new state government after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had an audience with the Sultan of Perak, together with 31 assemblymen who stated that they had no confidence in embattled PR MB Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.
The decision was challenged in court and doubts over its legitimacy were not removed until a year later, when the Federal Court upheld an earlier decision by the Court of Appeal that Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir was the rightful MB.
Citing the Perak case, law lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Sharom cautioned against such action outside the state assembly, and insisted the lawmakers wait until next sitting to indicate their lack of confidence.
“You don’t want a repeat of that, where a secret meeting took place,” the University of Malaya lecturer said, referring to the Perak crisis.
“I think what happened in Perak was legally wrong. The best thing to do is do it as legally and transparently as possible.”
Azmi said the open spectacle of a no-confidence motion would leave Khalid no choice but to resign from his post and possibly call for the dissolution of the state assembly,
“A vote by the house of representative should be done in the house of representative,” said Azmi.
The now party-less Khalid has so far resisted all attempts by his former colleagues in PKR to remove him, staying on in his post as mentri besar even after his sacking from the party last Saturday.
The embattled leader did so with the backing of the Selangor Sultan, who has so far indicated that he sees no need for Khalid to step down even though the latter is no longer a part of PR, which collectively commands the majority of the Selangor assembly.
Khalid also has the support of the state’s 12 Umno assemblymen, with deputy Umno president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin saying earlier this week that all the party’s representatives in Selangor will vote in favour of the mentri besar should any no-confidence motion be tabled in the House.
To further cement his position, Khalid one-upped his former PR allies when he sacked five of six DAP and PKR lawmakers from the state executive council on Tuesday. Once again, he did so with the Sultan’s blessing.
At present, Khalid now has a remaining five exco members under his wing in the council — four from PAS who have so far indicated their continued support for him, and a fifth member from PKR who was out of town when the sacking order was issued.
Khalid’s position was thrown into question after PKR’s disciplinary committee expelled him on Saturday ostensibly for his open defiance of the party’s decision that he must step down to make way for PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Khalid’s sacking leaves the coalition in a precarious state and will add to worries that snap polls may have to be called to ward off a stalemate.
Without Khalid, PKR’s share of the 56-seat Selangor state assembly drops to 13 from 14 while allies DAP and PAS have 15 seats each. Umno, the opposition in the state, holds 12.
“Khalid can remain as MB so long as there is no vote of no confidence against him. To succeed PR must at least get 29 assemblyman supporting the motion,” said Aziz.