Recently, there has been significant debate over the early dissolution of Parliament, as well as who decides the date of the General Election (GE). For those who haven’t studied the legislation, the simple answer is that the Electoral Commission (EC/SPR), not His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA), chooses the date of the coming general election. The same may be said for our Prime Minister, who consistently insists on the YDPA’s jurisdiction over this issue, which is partly true.
I hope that my fellow Malaysians and readers would join me in understanding the Malaysian constitution so that we are not deceived by our politicians. And grasp this problem once and for all.
Article 55 (4) states that “when Parliament dissolves, a general election shall be held within sixty days of the day it is dissolved, and Parliament shall be called to assemble on a date not later than one hundred and twenty days from that date.”
This is due to the time necessary for preparation, which includes the procedure of issuing writs and nomination; the EC/SPR generally takes at least 3-4 weeks to deliberate after dissolution. The EC usually determines the date of the general election after Parliament has been dissolved and the Speaker has issued the official notice to them.
So, who has the last say?
Article 55(3) states that “unless dissolved in advance, Parliament shall continue to run for five years from the date of its first sitting and shall thereafter be dissolved.” As a result, the 14th Parliament will be automatically dissolved on July 16, 2023.
While automatic dissolution after a term is unprecedented in history, it is important to remember that this is the default option.
The second reason of early dissolution is Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA). Parliament cannot be dissolved unless he agrees. This is his prerogative.
“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may act at his discretion in the exercise of the following functions: (a) choose a Prime Minister; (b) disapprove of the request for the dissolution of Parliament,” it specifies in Article 40(2).
However, the term ‘disapprove’ in text (b) plays a significant role.
This means that early dissolution is impossible without his blessing, but it’s also impossible with just his blessing. In actuality, there is no mention of the YDPA’s involvement in assessing whether dissolution should be derived from the date specified in Article 55(3).
Who has the authority to recommend for His Majesty’s consent an early dissolution?
The Prime Minister, of course. The Constitution is vague as to whether the Prime Minister makes decisions alone or after consulting with his cabinet or his political party, implying that either the Prime Minister or the convening constitutional will determine whether to dissolve it sooner or later.
The Prime Minister, according to the article, can decide when to dissolve Parliament and inform the YDPA for approval. In Malaysian history, the YDPA has never defied the Prime Minister’s advice in dissolving Parliament.
Is anybody else allowed under the Constitution to persuade the Prime Minister to dissolve parliament sooner?
The fourth possibility is the majority vote of House of Representatives members. “If the Prime Minister loses the confidence of the majority of members of the House of Representatives,” he says in Article 43(4), “the Prime Minister must resign from his Cabinet post until the YDPA dissolves Parliament at his request”.
This article spells by putting forth a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister is one option to push him to dissolve Parliament early. If successful, the Prime Minister will have to choose between dissolving Parliament and resigning.
If UMNO is pushing for an early dissolution, I encourage them to introduce a resolution of no-confidence in the Prime Minister at the forthcoming Parliament session that will be held next month. If the UMNO President has the guts, he may put this motion and enable all members to vote on whether or not to support it.
The issue is that we incorrectly assume that early parliamentary dissolution is solely dependent on the King’s power and that it indicates to the public that we are about to convert to an absolute monarchy system, which we are not.
To my beloved Prime Minister, a local law graduate whom I believe is a good man who upholds the Federal Constitution, I hope he does not deceive us with his political ambitions and sticks to the truth.
We live in a society where the constitution is our foundation; don’t misinterpret it for the sake of your political survival.
Malaysia negara berdaulat.
Air Times News Network is not responsible for opinions expressed through this article. It’s the columnist’s personal view and doesn’t necessarily reflect our stance.