By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, June 1: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) asserts there is no issue in appointing sitting MPs to head government-linked companies (GLCs).
Its information chief Datuk Idris Buang, however, also pointed out that it would be interesting to have a discussion over the issue.
“Yes, it will be interesting to get more views on this. Whatever it is, I believe, we do have adequate legislation to address such issues raised within the context of our constitution and basic principles in a democracy.
“I am quite certain our courts had in the past addressed and settled all legal issues surrounding the definition of this phrase from the constitutional law perspective.
“The opposition and their cohorts are trying to artificially create ‘a storm in a tea cup’ in order to arouse and ignite sentiments that could snowball into some degree of pressure, substantial enough to force ‘His Majesty the YDP Agong to prorogue Parliament and decree a snap election’,” according to Idris in a statement today.
Idris who is also Muara Tuang assemblyman was responding to a blog post arguing that there is constitutional crisis in Malaysia as MPs appointed to the boards of GLCs are disqualified by their appointments by virtue of holding “office of profit” as prohibited by the constitution, citing Article 48 (1)C).
The blog post asserted that nine out of 112 Perikatan Nasional (PN) MPs are said to be appointed to GLC boards, some as chairpersons. As such, the dissolution of Parliament is now unavoidable.
“It is difficult to see how the King can now avoid the fact that his government must be dissolved,” the blog post titled “Malaysia’s new constitutional crisis — MPs appointed to the boards of GLCs are disqualified from being MPs; dissolution of Parliament now unavoidable” published yesterday.
According to Idris, the said post is trying to overstretch the meaning of “office of profit” from what is really stated in the federal (Article 160 (d) ) and state ( Article 44) constitution.
“As defined under Article 160 para (d) of the Federal Constitution and Article 44 of the Sarawak State constitution, one feature of ‘an office of profit’ is, it must be ‘whole time’ or full-time job; therefore as chairman or board member of any GLCs, I think, is not to be considered as holding an ‘office of profit’.
“Moreover, some GLCs are incorporated under the Companies Act and having their own sets of constitutions, rules of governance, policies and procedures totally separate from that of the government departments in public service .
“There are other specific and general laws relevant to regulate conduct disposition and action of directors in companies even though these GLCs are wholly owned by the government to ensure integrity, accountability, transparency and propriety in their affairs.”
“In other words, they (GLCs) are not bound by the rules and procedures ordinarily meant for the public service or government departments per se,” Idris argued.
Idris who is a lawyer by training, highlighted that apart from the Companies Act, there are also the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, the Penal Code, the Securities Industry Act and Capital Market Services Act (for those dealing in securities and capital market) and other regulations that are governing GLCs.
He stressed that apart from those clearly meant by the said Article 160 (d) of the Federal Constitution, for any other appointments or positions whatsoever, they must each be expressly declared under such relevant law, Act, ordinances or statutes to be “an office of profit ” in order to be called as such.
“It follows that the chairmanship or membership on boards of GLCs, statutory bodies or outfits must be first expressly declared as ‘office of profit’ by their relevant law, for it to come under the constitutional definition of ‘office of profit’,” Idris reasoned.
He also argued that the term “office of profit” in relation to the qualification of a representative of Parliament should not to be confused with “profiteering in the ordinary sense of the word” in which the blog post is attempting to relate “office of profit” to a different perspective or context altogether peculiar to the qualification of Members of Parliament (including state assemblymen).
“A layman would wonder why judges, police officers, public servants are all considered as holding ‘offices of profit’. They are each considered holding an ‘office of profit’ in the constitutional sense and therefore not eligible to qualify as an MP, simply because these ‘whole time’ or ‘full-time’ positions fall within the said definition and possibly because of the degree of accountability these positions directly demand.”
He added, different countries may have different connotation or application of the term. For the sake of intellectual discourse, he thus raised the question whether the post of Mayor of London which UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson used to hold, is an “office of profit”?
“Then there are also questions revolving around the mayors of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other American cities whether these too, were in the writer’s own term ‘offices of profit’, especially when some of them may also run for Congress or Senate. Personally I am not familiar with their system,” said Idris. — DayakDaily