Saturday, November 10, 2018

Turning the Tables on Musa Aman in Sabah

I'm sure Musa Aman (left) was thinking how easy it was to reclaim his old job as Sabah Chief Minister.

He had claimed his dismissal as chief minister was unlawful and against the state constitution. 

After all, Musa was the first to be sworn in by the Yang di-Pertuan Negeri Juhar Mahiruddi on May 10, 2018 – just one day after the historic GE14 that left Sabah with a hung state assembly. 

Back then, Musa led Barisan Nasional Sabah won 29 seats while opposition Warisan and partners DAP and PKR also won a similar number in the 60-seat Sabah State Legislative Assembly. 

However, thanks to big-time “froggie” state assemblyperson Jeffery Kitingan who hopped over to the other side – Musa was sworn in. 

But it was short-lived when six of his own assemblypersons defected to the other side and within forty-eight hours, he lost his chief ministership. With 35 assemblypersons for opposition Warisan and partners – they had more than enough seats to form the state government. 

Of course, Governor Juhar consented Warisan President Shafie Apdal (left) to take his oath as Chief Minister on May 12, 2018. 

Musa quickly turned blue and purple and then red – and he angrily disputed his ouster, insisting he did not tender his resignation as chief minister. 

Not unexpectedly, he filed a lawsuit, seeking a declaration that he is the lawful Sabah chief minister. 

But High Court judge Yew Jen Kie (right) was nobody's fool and she sprung a surprise on Musa. 

The judge declared that Shafie's appointment by the Sabah Governor was valid under the state constitution. 

The best part of the ruling was the reason presented by Justice Yew in arriving at her decision. She cleverly used a Federal Court ruling triggered by BN themselves as the basis of her decision – the 2009 Perak constitutional crisis. 

In that disgraceful episode, the same drama happened. The difference is that the roles were reversed. 

Judge Yew said Governor Juhar was acting within his powers when he sworn in Shafie less than 48 hours after he sworn in Musa – the same way Perak’s Sultan Azlan Shah had handed over the reins of the state government to Najib Razak’s man Zambry Abd Kadir (left). 

The judge argued that statutory declarations by the six BN Sabah assemblypersons who crossed over to Shafie’s side were sufficient to show Musa had lost his majority support. 

Judge Yew also argued that the governor did not need to wait for a motion of no-confidence to be tabled against Musa in the state assembly. Based on that Perak incident, she was convinced a vote of no-confidence is not the only method to determine whether the Sabah chief minister (in this case, Musa) had lost majority support. 

In fact, Musa’s refusal to resign mirrored that of Perak ex-Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar (right). I remembered that the former Information Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek had even pronounced Nizar’s refusal to resign as an act of treason. 

Anyway, taking a page from the infamous Perak incident – Judge Yew agreed that Musa is deemed to have vacated the office along with his state cabinet once he loses the majority. 

Of course, I am among many Malaysians who believes the then Perak Sultan’s decision was very wrong as far as the rule of law is concerned. That decision – whether made in haste or under pressure from the then-PM Najib, who happened to also be the head of Perak BN – basically means the Menteri Besar holds office at the pleasure of the Sultan, when IN FACT, IT IS NOT. 

We forget that the Sultan is a constitutional monarch and therefore, he had no power to dismiss Nizar, let alone to request his resignation. 

Had Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak (right) allowed former Perak Chief Minister Nizar’s request for the dissolution of the state assembly to pave way for a snap election back in 2009, or at least allowed a vote of no-confidence to be tabled – just to prove Najib had the numbers – maybe, just maybe, Musa Aman might win his case and BN would be in the seat of power in Sabah today. 

God is great!

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