Constitutional experts: Ahmad Faizal practically ousted as MB, should resign with whole exco line-up

Soo Wern Jun
·4-min read
Yesterday, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu lost a motion of confidence vote that was tabled against him at the state legislative assembly. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Yesterday, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu lost a motion of confidence vote that was tabled against him at the state legislative assembly. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 ― Following Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu’s failure to win a confidence vote motion in the Perak state assembly yesterday, several constitutional experts polled have said that he should immediately resign as mentri besar.

According to them, the result of the motion means that the state assembly has voted that the Perak Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chief has lost its confidence, and must therefore quit and dissolve his state government and executive councillors.

“If the majority of assemblymen voted against the motion that must mean they have no confidence,” lawyer Surendra Ananth told Malay Mail.

Lawyer Surendra Ananth says Ahmad Faizal has the option of asking the Sultan to dissolve the assembly and call for an election. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Lawyer Surendra Ananth says Ahmad Faizal has the option of asking the Sultan to dissolve the assembly and call for an election. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

“In my view [when] the Perak mentri besar resigns automatically when he loses confidence. He resigns with his entire executive council.”

The Kuala Lumpur Bar Practice Reform Committee chairman however said that Ahmad Faizal has the option of asking the Sultan to dissolve the assembly and call for an election.

“If the Sultan agrees ― then a state election will take place. But, the Sultan has the power to disagree and appoint a new mentri besar whom he thinks most likely commands majority support,” Surendra explained.

Malaysian Bar Council's Constitutional Law Committee deputy chairman Lim Wei Jiet also agreed with Surendra, saying that once a mentri besar resigns, his entire executive council will automatically dissolve.

“Yes, if a mentri besar fails to get a majority for a motion of confidence, it is akin to a motion of no-confidence succeeding,” said Lim when contacted.

Lim added that there are four scenarios that the public can anticipate, and that includes Ahmad Faizal refusing to resign or request to dissolve the state assembly.

“He can continue to hold his portfolio as though the tabling of motion of confidence did not happen.

“Following the case of Zambry vs Nizar, the Sultan of Perak can appoint an assemblyman who commands the majority of the state assembly as the new mentri besar,” he said, referring to the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis where the Sultan appointed Umno’s Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir to replace then PAS’ Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as mentri besar following a series of defections.

Yesterday, Ahmad Faizal lost a motion of confidence vote that was tabled against him at the state legislative assembly.

Perak Speaker Datuk Mohammad Zahir Abdul Khalid announced the results showing that 48 out of 59 voting ballots received had voted against Ahmad Faizal, while only 10 supported him and one vote was damaged.

Malaysian Bar Council's Constitutional Law Committee deputy chairman Lim Wei Jiet (left) says once a mentri besar resigns, his entire executive council will automatically dissolve. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Malaysian Bar Council's Constitutional Law Committee deputy chairman Lim Wei Jiet (left) says once a mentri besar resigns, his entire executive council will automatically dissolve. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Subsequently, Ahmad Faizal had an audience with the Sultan. The Malay ruler will also see Pakatan Harapan leaders this morning.

Similarly, Universiti Teknologi Mara’s law lecturer Shamrahayu Abd Aziz also said Ahmad Faizal now has to resign as mentri besar, if he is constitutionally proven to have failed to secure majority support.

“Most important is now, we must understand if the motion of confidence does amount to a motion of no-confidence [in this context].

“There is no provision in the law ― not in the Federal Constitution, or any state's constitution, but it is [the case] according to the Westminster system,” she said when contacted.

She added that if this practice is applied in the local context of what transpired in Perak, under Article 16 of the Perak Constitution Clause 6, the mentri besar no longer command the majority and he shall tender his resignation.

“Although the motion of confidence was addressed to him alone, it amounts to resignation of the members of the exco too,” she added.

Ahmad Faizal was reappointed as the Perak Mentri Besar after the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration he headed collapsed following Bersatu's exit from the coalition to form Perikatan Nasional.

The confidence motion had been scheduled to be tabled after the presentation of the state's 2021 budget but was brought forward by emergency by Salbiah Mohamed (Barisan Nasional-Temenngor) and Howard Lee (PH-Pasir Pinji).

Ahmad Faizal has since made a concession speech pledging to ensure a smooth transition to his successor, but insisted that he still leads a caretaker government.

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