State polls need new law

Shad (left) and Firdaus.

KUCHING: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has to amend the existing ordinance within the Emergency period to allow Sarawak to have its state election this year.

Constitutional law expert Prof Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi said, if the Emergency ends on Aug 1, the laws that suspended the elections will continue to be in force for another six months due to Article 150 (7) of the Federal Constitution.

“In my view, before Emergency ends and while Yang di-Pertuan Agong still has the power to consult with the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak to order an election as soon as possible, he has to amend the ordinance to allow election in the state,” he said.

Shad said this during an online talk hosted by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) 2.0 recently.

He said during the Emergency, the provision in the Eight Schedule which stated that election must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly has been suspended.

Meanwhile, Centre for Human Rights and Constitutionalism (MCCHR) chief human rights strategist and practising lawyer Firdaus Husni echoed Shad’s views.

“Within this time (Emergency), if there is a need to discuss the election, a consultation between the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak must take place,” she said.

Firdaus said, by virtue of Article 150 (7), any ordinance promulgated under Emergency proclamation would be imposed for six months after such emergency is lifted.

“Within that time, the effect of suspension of parliament and elections will still apply. After the end of the six months, my view is that parliament will dissolve, only then election will be called within the next 60 days,” she said.

On Friday, it was reported that Sarawak Cabinet members plan to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to lift the emergency order in Sarawak if the Covid-19 situation in the state can be brought to a manageable level.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said if the appeal is favourably considered, it would pave the way for the 12th state election to be held as the term for the current State Legislative Assembly ends in June.