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No need for vote of no confidence, Khalid must resign, say lawyers

There is no need to take a vote of no confidence in the Selangor Legislative Assembly in order to prove that Khalid Ibrahim has lost the mandate as Menteri Besar (MB), several law experts claimed today.

University Malaya law lecturer Gurdial Singh Nijar said that following the declaration of 30 State Assemblypersons that they had lost confidence in Khalid Ibrahim, the Sultan of Selangor was bound by legal precedent to order the MB and State Exco to resign.

The Sultan has no discretion in the matter but to act according to the judgment of the Federal Court (in the case of the Perak State Assembly where PAS’ Nizar Jamaluddin was replaced by UMNO’s Zambry Abdul Kadir),

“Any refusal would go against the express mandatory provision of the State Constitution: Article 53(6) which is identical to the provision in the Perak State Constitution.” he said. 

Gurdial quoted the Federal Court in the Nizar vs Zambry case as saying, “it would lead to political uncertainty in the state. The appellant (MB) cannot continue to govern after having lost the support of the majority. To allow him to do so would be going against the basic principle of democracy”.

The Court in the Perak case accepted as sufficient that during an audience with the Sultan of Perak, Prime Minister Najib Razak presented letters from 31 State Assemblymen to declare that Nizar had lost the confidence of the 36-member State Legislative Assembly.

It was then incumbent upon the Menteri Besar to tender his resignation and that of the Executive Council, in this case, Khalid should resign. The Sultan will then appoint as the MB the person nominated by the majority.

Gurdial said that if the MB refuses to resign, the EXCO members would be ‘deemed to have vacated their respective offices’.

Today at a press conference PKR’s Wan Azizah Wan Ismail revealed that 30 Selangor State Assemblymen had signed statutory declarations that they lost confidence in Khalid Ibrahim and wanted her to replace him as MB.

Gurdial said that a loss of confidence could be established by other extraneous sources other than a no-confidence motion, “provided they are properly established”, and that the Perak case was precedent of this.

“If such representations give the other party (in this case the PR political alliance) a clear majority in the Assembly, then, said the Court, this clearly pointed to the loss of confidence of the majority of members of the legislative assembly in the leadership of the Menteri Besar”.

He also noted that in the Nizar vs Zambry case, the Federal Court had acknowledged the “political alliance called Pakatan Rakyat (PR)”, alluding to Khalid’s earlier comment that the Pakatan Rakyat alliance was not legally registered.

“State Constitution does not require a vote of no-confidence”

Lawyers for Liberty’s Afiq Mohd Noor agrees with Gurdial’s view that the Nizar vs Zambry judgment is applicable in the current Selangor MB crisis.

“The law does not state specifically how the reps decide on whether the MB commands the confidence of the house,” he said, explaining that if the state assembly convened to vote, and the MB lost the vote, then Khalid would be left with two options. Firstly, he can call for an audience with the Selangor Sultan and ask to either dissolve the State Assembly for fresh elections, or secondly, he could opt to resign.

“There are no provisions in the state constitution that require a vote of confidence be held in order to ascertain the State Assembly’s confidence in the MB.”

Afiq said that hence, there was no need for a vote of no confidence to be held by the State Assembly; as long as the Sultan selects a Malay-Muslim MB based on majority support of Selangor reps. This is in accordance to the Article 51 and 53(2)(a) of the Selangor State Constitution.

He said it should prompt the Selangor Sultan to select the MB that garners the support of the majority, which in this case in Dr Wan Azizah.

“Constitutionally-bound to resign”

Calling Khalid “desparate to cling to office”, lawyer N. Surendran says after today’s turn of events, Khalid Ibrahim has no legal or moral legitimacy to continue as MB of Selangor.

Surendran pointed out that Article 53(6)  of the Selangor State Constitution states that if the MB ‘ceases to command the confidence of the majority’ of the members of the Assembly, he shall tender his resignation and that of State Exco. 

“With the confirmation today of 30 members who no longer have confidence in Khalid, Article 53(6) becomes operative. Khalid is bound by the Constitution to leave office immediately.”

Surendran said Khalid must explain on what basis did he inform Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on 11 August that he had the confidence of the majority of the assembly. -The Rocket

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