Monday, July 29, 2013

Validity of two ministers, three deputy ministers to be decided in court tomorrow

BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
JULY 29, 2013
LATEST UPDATE: JULY 29, 2013 10:09 AM
When does a qualified person become a senator?

On this question hinges the validity of the appointment of two ministers and three deputy ministers on May 15.

According to Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, the minute the prime minister named Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, Datuk Paul Low, P. Waythamoorthy, Dr Loga Bala Mohan and Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipa as senators, they become members of the Dewan Negara  and therefore qualified to be members of his administration.

But DAP MP M. Kula Segaran  argued that before a candidate becomes senator, he must be sworn in before the Dewan Negara president.

Only when that process is complete can someone be sworn in as minister or deputy minister, he said.

Kula Segaran said this was the past practice when senators joined as members of the prime minister's administration.

This critical interpretation of the Federal Constitution will come before the High Court tomorrow.

The Malaysian Insider understands Abdul Gani will personally appear for the government to oppose Kula Segaran's leave application for the judicial review.

Lawyer C.K. Lim will represent Kula Segaran to submit that his client had an arguable case and leave should be given for the merit of the matter to be heard.

The Attorney-General's Chambers. in its written submission. stated that the opposition lawmaker's point was so frivolous and did not disclose an arguable case.

"The application ought to be dismissed," it said.

The government contends that the moment the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the prime minister appoints a senator, he is a member of the Dewan Negara.

Taking the oath before the president is secondary.

"Article 59 of the constitution showed in the clearest and plainest words that a person must be a member of the Senate first before he takes his oath," it said.

Kula Segaran, who filed the application on June 19, wants a declaration that the appointments did not comply with the constitution as the five were made ministers and deputy ministers without first being sworn in as senators.

"There must be strict compliance to Article 43 of the constitution. They must be members of either of the Houses, which means they must have been elected as an MP or sworn in as senators before they are appointed as ministers and deputy ministers," he said in his application.

He wants all privileges and other pecuniary advantages obtained by the five respondents refunded to the government within seven days of the order to be made by the court.

Abdul Wahid and Low were named as ministers in the prime minister's department and Waythamoorthy deputy minister.

Loga is the deputy minister in the Federal Territories Ministry while Ahmad Bashah is deputy Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister.

However, the appointments, namely of Low, who used to be president of anti-graft watchdog Transparency International Malaysia, and Waythamoorthy, the Hindraf chairman who turned BN-friendly before the elections, had come under fire from various quarters.

Abdul Wahid was president and CEO of Maybank before his cabinet appointment. - July 29, 2013.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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