Saturday, June 1, 2013
Prominent lawyer Tommy Thomas accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of a “blunder” today when he appointed five ministers and deputy ministers without them being MPs or senators in the first place.
Former Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) chief Datuk Paul Low (picture) and Maybank CEO Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar were both sworn in as ministers on May 16 together with three deputy ministers despite none of them being appointed senators.
“Under the Federal Constitution, the sequence is plain and clear: one must first be elected by the people or be appointed to the Senate before one can become a minister; and not the other way.
“If these ministers and deputy ministers have been discharging the functions of their office since May 16, they have been acting unconstitutionally,” said Thomas in a commentary piece run by online news portal Malaysiakini.
According to Thomas, the five men had told an untruth if they had taken the oath of office and allegiance under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution in front of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The oath reads: “I, ......., having been appointed as a member of the Senate, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully discharge my duties as such to the best of my ability, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia, and will preserve, protect and defend its constitution.”
Article 43(2)(b) of the Federal Constitution states that a minister must be a member of either House of Parliament.
Articles 43A(1) and 43B(1) state that deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries must be parliamentarians, and only political secretaries are exempt from the rule.
Thomas also called for the respective parties to take immediate corrective steps for the “monumental blunder”, including by apologising to Malaysians.
DAP chairman Karpal Singh had last month said the Federal Constitution should be amended to abolish the Senate.
“There is no need for the Senate. It is an unnecessary expense required to be borne by the people. It does not serve a useful purpose.
“It only encourages those who have been rejected by the people or others to be brought into Parliament through the back door via the Senate as in law Parliament also includes the Senate,” he told a press conference.
His remark had been criticised by Senator Datuk Boon Som Inong who regarded it as ridiculing the Federal Constitution, and insulting the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who appointed members of the Senate.