PH has right not to dissolve assemblies – but must ensure two things

Picture from The Star

STATE governments have every right to not dissolve their assemblies as long as they can ensure two things: they have a strong majority and approval from the respective heads of state to govern.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies director Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said a protest by opposition assemblymen in Pakatan Harapan-led states might frustrate its plan to keep its state assemblies.

“Of course it can be done, but firstly, for a state with a sultan, (opposition) assemblymen may voice their protest to the ruler and the sultan may intervene if he chooses to.

“For states such as Melaka and Penang, where they have Yang di-Pertua Negeri, the governor can ask the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to intervene,” he said.

However, he noted that this was only applicable in the event the Yang di-Pertua Negeri chose to make a request for the king to intervene.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong can’t intervene without a request from the governors,” he added.

Shamsul said the most important factor for PH to take note of if the opposition pact wanted to continue with its plan to not dissolve its state assemblies was to secure a very strong majority.

“If there are mass defections among PH assemblymen, the state government in question will fall,” he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Centre for Policy Research and International Studies lecturer Dr Ainul Adzellie Hasnul agreed with Shamsul, saying that the Federal Constitution provides the power to states to run its administration for a term of five years.

Just like in Sarawak, where the state holds its own elections (PRN), other states in the peninsula may do the same too.

Nevertheless, he said the PH state governments might face protests from their voters because refusing to dissolve their state assemblies simultaneously with the federal government would mean holding two separate elections in a state.

“General elections are held for parliamentary seats while PRN is for state seats. All this while, state governments hold elections together with the federal government to, among others, avoid wasting money.

“Legally speaking, it is allowed but from the administrative point of view, it will be a hassle because we will need the state government, the EC and local authorities to do election work again.

“Isn’t this a waste of taxpayers’ money? Holding an election is an expensive affair,” he said.

On Monday, the PH presidential council said in a statement that all states under the opposition coalition would not dissolve their state assemblies in the event a snap election is called.

The council said the federal and state governments should be focusing on helping the people amid the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of going for yet another general election before it was time to do so.

This was echoed by Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun, who said the state would not dissolve its assembly as the mandate given by the people in the 14th General Election should be continued to its full five-year term.

It was reported that Senior International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said a general election could be held this year or next because the Perikatan Nasional government had met the criteria to call for snap polls anytime.

PH currently controls three states, namely Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Penang, while its ally in the opposition, Parti Warisan Sabah, helms the Sabah state government.

It used to helm a total of eight states. However, the PH federal government collapsed in February this year, which led to it losing its hold on four states, namely Johor, Melaka, Perak and Kedah.

This article first appeared in the New Straits Times. The views here do not necessarily represent those of this portal.