By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal | malaysianinsider | PUTRAJAYA, 8 March 2010
Federal Court upholds Anwar’s sacking as ‘constitutional’
Malaysia’s highest court today ruled that Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking from the government in 1998 was constitutional.
Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff led a three-man bench which affirmed that the High Court and the Court of Appeals were correct in their earlier decisions.
The other judges were Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong and Datuk Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusof
“Under the Federal Constitution, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is a constitutional monarch… as a constitutional monarch he has a limited role in appointment of ministers it is decided by the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister has decided that a minister should cease to hold office, the Agong would not be able to do otherwise,” said Alauddin, who explained that the Agong’s role in appointments or revocations of ministers was merely a “formality.”
In the suit filed on Nov 13, 1998 against Dr Mahathir and the federal government, Anwar was seeking a declaration that his sacking by the then prime minister on Sept 2, 1998 was unconstitutional and of no effect.
The president of the Court of Appeal Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff who led the three-man team of Federal court judges which included Datuk Abdull Hamid Embong and Datuk Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusof affirmed that the High Court and the Court of Appeal were correct in their earlier decisions.
“Under the Federal Constitution, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is a constitutional monarch. As a constitutional monarch he has a limited role in appointment of ministers and it is decided by the Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister has decided that a minister should cease to hold office, the Agong would not be able to say otherwise,” said Alauddin who explained that the Agong’s role in appointments or revocation of ministers was merely a “formality.”
The judge went on to state that Anwar’s sacking by the former prime minister was in fact lawful as it was done in accordance with the rules of the constitution and that “requirements had been met.”
Shortly after being removed from Cabinet, Anwar was tried and convicted of sodomy and corruption, spending six years in jail until the Federal Court overturned his sodomy conviction in 2004.
Both teams had presented their submissions to the Federal Court on Dec 3 last year.
Anwar’s lead counsel Karpal Singh had argued that Anwar’s Cabinet appointment could not be revoked by Mahathir without prior consent of the king.
The veteran lawyer’s contention was that Mahathir’s actions had contravened Article 43(5) of the Federal Constitution which stated that the appointment of any minister may be revoked by the king on the advice of the prime minister.
Quoting the dismissal letter signed by Mahathir, Karpal had noted that it was clear that he had revoked Anwar’s appointment and then informed the king of the dismissal.
In reply, Senior Federal counsel Datuk Kamaludin Md Said then argued that Mahathir’s dismissal of Anwar had followed legal procedure, stressing that the king’s role in the matter was purely formal as the king was a constitutional monarch.
It is understood that Kamaludin, who was representing Mahathir and the Federal government, had stressed that there were no legal provisions that specified how the revocation of a minister’s appointment was to be effected or gazetted.
Anwar appeared cynical when he spoke to reporters outside of court. ”What did you expect? A surprise?” said the one-time deputy prime minister and former right-hand man of Mahathir in jest.
He explained to reporters that he had decided to pursue the case because he knew for a fact that the late King did not sign the letter of consent on September 2 when the letter was first issued to Anwar.
Anwar claimed that the then-Agong, the late Tuanku Ja’afar ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman and his wife, Tuanku Najihah binti Almarhum Tunku Besar Burhanuddin had visited him in hospital in Munich, Germany shortly after his back surgery and informed him of the matter.
“Tuanku Jaafar told me that he was not informed on the morning of the sacking, and did not sign on the second of September.
“My wife as well as Tuanku Najihah are witnesses. They were there,” claimed Anwar.
Meanwhile, Karpal told reporters that the judgment effectively meant that the former Prime Minister had the powers of a “dictator.”
“We are not disputing the fact that the Agong acts on the advice of the Cabinet... I just can’t understand how such a judgement could have been passed,” said Karpal.