Monday, 24 March 2008
On the crisis over the appointment of the Chief Minister of Terengganu
The situation in Terengganu is a crisis of government, not of the Constitution. The Sultan acted within his powers in appointing the person who, in his judgment, is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the State Assembly. Ahmad Said's appointment is effective and he is now the Chief Minister of Terengganu. It is up to the properly convened State Assembly to test him with a vote of confidence in due course. Petitions, threats, coercion and declarations of support for the Prime Minister and his candidate have no bearing on the legality of the Sultan of Terengganu's appointment of his own Chief Minister. Perhaps we have forgotten what it is like to conduct ourselves with good manners and due respect for the Constitution and the sovereignty of the Ruler.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's statement yesterday that "the appointment of anyone but Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh as Terengganu Menteri Besar is unconstitutional" is wrong. As in the recent crisis in Perlis, the Prime Minister’s actions suggest stunning ineptness in managing fundamental relationships and straightforward functions of government.
This storm in Terengganu is just the latest in a series of crises brought on by an apparent failure to understand how State powers work relative to Federal ones. This is alarming because the Barisan government now has five Opposition-controlled states to contend with out of the nine in Peninsular Malaysia. The mis-handling of chief ministerial appointments in Perlis, and now in Terengganu, mean that our leadership in two other states is now in jeopardy.
After fifty years of independence, I am sure we should be capable of resolving our issues in a efficient and respectful manner.