Agong holds key for economic recovery

Agong may hold the key between Aug 1 and next GE in 2023 for economic recovery.

M’sia, facing ‘special circumstances’, needs political stability until GE15.

No matter what’s announced, or not announced, after the Special Rulers’ Meet on Wed 16 June 2021, Agong and the sultans can only have political stability uppermost in mind.

The rest will fall in place.

When politics comes in through the door, economics flies out the window. There must be political stability for economic recovery. The market looks for certainties.

Generally, it’s clear the politicians have failed the people since late Feb 2020 when Mahathir Mohamad abruptly stepped down as Prime Minister. #Kerajaan Gagal remains a simplistic take. Anyone who battles the pandemic would probably fail unless the people accept the case for herd immunity.

These are “special circumstances”. Politicians in M’sia, although none may have the numbers, can’t accept the reality that minority gov’t in between elections is lawful. Therein lies Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s dilemma.

Agong and the sultans, being heridatory rulers, have “residual powers” — reserve powers — not specifically spelt out in law.

Agong can step in when it’s clear the politicians have failed the people and there’s a power vacuum. There’s always a first time. If he declines to step in, Muhyiddin will get the proverbial second chance, seizing victory from the looming jaws of defeat.

Under the Federal Constitution, Article 39, executive authority of the Federation shall be vested in the Agong and exercisable . . . by him or the Cabinet . . . but Parliament may by law . . .

First, a little digression.

Often, the question is raised in law exams in England: Can the Queen withdraw executive authority, delegated by Administration to the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, and exercise it directly herself?

Yes, she can!

In practice, that won’t happen.

There may be no “special circumstances”. The British Parliament, being a school of gentlemen in history, would somehow find a way forward even if there’s great political instability in between elections. The British people accept that minority gov’t is lawful.

Interestingly, the unwritten/uncodified British Constitution makes no mention of a Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.

Still, the Queen delegates executive authority by Administration to the “Prime Minister” and “Council of Ministers”. Conventions are about the working of the Constitution. No court would hear Applications on Conventions since they are not law.

Likewise, on paper, the Agong can withdraw executive authority delegated by Administration to the Prime Minister, and Council of Ministers, and exercise it directly until GE15.

We may be in unchartered territory.

Agong can cite “special circumstances”. No court would go against him as evident since 1 Mar 2020. The matter is non-justiciable i.e. not within the jurisdiction of the court and/or beyond it.

Some things may be beyond the Constitution, the court and law.

Patently, the Emergency which ends on Aug 1 can be extended, for further periods of six months at a time, even until GE15 in 2023 if necessary.

It’s probably unlikely the Emergency which ends on Aug 1 would be extended, unless the Agong cites the need for political stability. I would be happy to be proven wrong on the Emergency not being extended and Muhyiddin gets a strong renewed lease on his political life.

The politicians would not take any Emergency extension lying down unless the Agong takes a firm stand. The Prime Minister remains highly vulnerable in the court of public opinion.

If Muhyiddin had not advised the Agong on Emergency, probably he stood a better chance of remaining Prime Minister until GE15.

In any case, Agong can close the Istana gates and point in the direction of Parliament. No one may command the confidence factor to unseat the Prime Minister. In hindsight, Agong clearly looked at the confidence factor and not the numbers game when he appointed Muhyiddin as Prime Minister on Mar 1 last year.

Agong has said that Parliament can re-convene during the Emergency. The gov’t wants to wait for herd immunity. All MPs have been vaccinated. Hence, herd immunity has nothing to do with Parliament.

Muhyiddin explained the Emergency was necessary since virus cases were already at 2K daily and in danger of moving up. Since the 2K daily chalked up months ago, cases surged to 8K and hovers currently at 5K+.

The people would no longer accept that the Emergency can help bring virus cases down. The lockdown to keep a lid on hospitalisation does not need Emergency powers.

Muhyiddin’s Narrative on the Emergency has fallen apart, as seen not only in the number of virus cases, but Mahathir writing to the Agong for a meeting.

That has set the stage for the Rulers’ Date this week, the dramatic follow up after the Agong’s unprecedented separate meetings with party leaders across the political Divide.

Read further here . . .

National Recovery Plan misses forest for the trees!

M’sia bogged down by the pandemic, can’t connect the dots for the Way Forward.

Moo’s National Recovery Plan designed to pre-empt Agong, sultans and stay in power.

It’s unlikely, given the political nature of the pandemic, that virus cases will drop below 2K by Sept this year.

Author: fernzthegreat

Joe Fernandez holds a honours degree in management, majoring in economics, and has opted from academia in law to being a jurist. He was trained professionally on the job as a journalist. He's a longtime Borneo watcher, keen on the history and legal aspects of Malaya's presence in Sabah and Sarawak. He teaches the English language privately and has emerged as a subject matter expert in public examination techniques.

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