Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Powers Of The King

ON April 11, 2012 the Sultan of Kedah, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'azam Shah, who ascended to the throne on December 13, 2011, succeeding Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu, will be installed as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Under the Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong have the following powers and they are by no means exhaustive: 
·        The Head of Religion for the entire country (Article 3).
·        The Supreme Head of the nation, subjected to constitutional limitations (Article 32).
·        The King shall enjoy total immunity from Law except specifically charged by a Special Court (consisting of the Chief Justice, High Court judges plus two more judges from the Federal Court or High Court appointed by the Conference of Rulers) in his personal capacity with prior approval from the Attorney-General (Article 32 and Article 182 and 183).
·        Gets to keep and use the Public Seal of the Federation (Article 36).
·        Possesses the power to pardon, grant reprieves, remit, suspend or commute sentences of convicted persons, under the advice of the Pardon Board (Article 38 and 42) for offences tried by court-martial and all offences in the Federal Territories. Also the power to pardon, grant reprieves, remit, suspend or commute sentences imposed by the Syariah courts in Malacca, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak or the Federal Territories (Article 42).
·        Can exercise the executive authority as Head of State, subjected to existing Federal laws (Article 39) and on advice from the Cabinet and shall accept that advice and can request for any information concerning the Government that is available to the Cabinet (Article 40).
·        Has discretionary powers to choose who he wants as the Prime Minister and is not bound by the decision of the outgoing PM and if no party has won a majority vote (Article 40). It, however, does not afford him the right and authority to dismiss the PM.
·        Can dismiss or withhold consent to a request for the dissolution of Parliament (Article 40). May discontinue or dissolve Parliament (Article 55) but he can only dissolve Parliament at the request of the PM (Article 43).
·        Is authorised to call a Conference of Rulers but the agenda of this meeting is limited to discussions dealing solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses (Article 40).
·        Is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (Article 41).
·        Gets to appoint Ministers and Deputy Ministers subjected to advice from the PM (Article 43).
·        The legislative authority of the country is vested on the King and the two houses of Parliament (Article 44).
·        Shall appoint 40 members to the Senate (Article 45).
·        He can remove the disqualification of a person as a member of any house of Parliament for failing to lodge any return of election expenses or for having been convicted of an offence in court and sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than one year or to a fine of not less than RM2,000 and has not received a free pardon (Article 48).
·        He shall not allow six months to elapse between the last sitting of Parliament in one session and the date appointed for its first meeting in the next session (Article 55).
·        May address either the Senate and the House of Representatives or both jointly (Article 60).
·        Shall appoint the Senate Clerk and the House of Representative Clerk (Article 65).
·        Can reject any new laws or amendments to existing laws but if he still withholds permission, it will automatically become law after 30 days from the initial submission to him (Article 66).
·        Can order the disposition of land in which the Federation has a vested interest subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament by a resolution (Article 87).
·        After recommendations and consultations and upon his satisfaction, can proclaim that an area falls under a national development plan with some exclusions for Sabah and Sarawak (Article 92).
·        Has the power to authorise the State Legislature to introduce laws as well as extend legislative or executive powers of States except to repeal or amend a law unless specifically authorised by the House of Representatives (Article 95).
·        Compel the statement of accounts of the Federation to be laid before the Houses of Parliament (Article 99).
·        Gets to validate the PM’s nomination of an Auditor-General after consultations with the other Sultans and the terms and conditions of service of the AG (Article 105, and 106). The King gets the first copy of the Auditor-General’s report before they are exhibited in both Houses (Article 107 and Article 112).
·        Gives approval to any reviews of any state grants to Sabah and Sarawak subject to the advice from the PM and the approval of the House of Representatives (Article 112).
·        Gets to elect the Chairman, the deputy Chairman and five other members of the Elections Commission, and they must enjoy public confidence subjected to approval from the Conference of Rulers (Article 114).
·        Gets to name where he wants to register the High Court in Peninsular Malaysia and the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak. Same goes for the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court (Article 121).
·        The King gets to name four judges to the Federal Court, 10 judges to the Court of Appeals and the High Court judges, subjected to recommendations from the Chief Justice and advice from the PM (Article 122).
·        The King can also remove/suspend/discipline judges (Article 125) with prior recommendations from the PM, the CJ, the President of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judges of the High Courts and a tribunal appointed by the King himself.
·        May refer to the Federal Court any questions on the provisions of the Constitution for its opinion (Article 130).
·        The King gets to appoint the Chief of Defence Forces, two senior Army staff officers, one senior Navy staff officer, one senior Air Force staff officer plus an additional two more (civilian or military) people to the Armed Forces Council (Article 137) of which he heads.
·        There are similar provisions for the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (Article 138), the Public Services Commission (Article 139), the Police Force Commission (Article 140), and the Education Service Commission (Article 141). All of the above commissions must first show the King their annual reports (Article 146).
·        Appoints the Attorney-General on the advice of the PM (Article 145).
·        May proclaim a State of Emergency (and cannot be challenged in court – Article 151) and any number of them at different times but cannot revoke it. He can when both the Houses are not sitting during an Emergency, decree ordinances (Article 150).
·        The King gets the responsibility of safeguarding the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak, and the legitimate interests of the other communities (Article 153).

(Inspired by an article in Malaysia Today)

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