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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Experts: Sultan's 'no protest' decree not binding


Several legal experts have opined that Johor Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar's decree banning street demonstrations was not legally binding.
Lawyer Jababerdeen Mohamed Yunoos told Malaysiakini that the Sultan has a moral duty to advise his subjects on the nature and purpose of certain assemblies.
"He may be concerned about unity of his subjects, which I believe is a rightful concern of a responsible king," said Jahaberdeen.
However, he said that the constitution is clear on the guarantee for freedom of assembly and expression.
The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 is also clear as on the rights of freedom of assembly, he added.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya law faculty associate professor Azmi Sharom was of the opinion that the Johor Sultan's decree was unconstitutional.
As such, the ban is not legally binding in any way, he said.
Constitutional function
Lawyer Andy Yong pointed out that under the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, the sultan's discretionary powers include many things, such as his role as the head of the Islam religion, his function in relation to the Malay adat (tradition), appointment of heir, consort, regent and Council of Regency, among others.
What is distinctly missing from the list of powers was the power to make decrees such as the ban on street demonstrations.
"Anyway, today, citizens see the monarchy as a check-and-balance mechanism and as a court of last resort against the power of the executive," he added.
On Thursday, the Johor Sultan's decree banned street demonstrations in the state, calling it "irresponsible" for people to gather in public places and insult leaders and certain individuals.

"I would like to stress that I would not allow any kind of demonstration to take place in Johor," he had said.
He also said that if non-governmental organisations were not satisfied with the government, they should use the proper channels to voice dissatisfaction, instead of taking it to the streets.
"Go and meet your respective elected representatives, and if they fail to voice your grievances, then by all means choose a new leader who is capable to do the job," he said. - Mkini

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