THE Penang government will await the High Court’s decision on the three Originating Summons (three OS) filed by the Seberang Jaya, Sungai Acheh, Bertam and Telok Bahang assemblymen, before taking the next action.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the Penang executive council (exco) deliberated on the matter and a statement on the matter had been issued yesterday (Aug 5).
“We will have to wait for the High Court‘s decision before taking the next step,” Chow responded to a question by a journalist today.
Chow recapped the background of the entire case.
“It originated from three OS filed by the four assemblymen to the High Court in seeking an injunction to stop the state government from declaring their seats vacant.
“As a response, the state made an application to the Federal Court to determine the constitutionality of Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution, concerning the disqualification of members who shift parties after being elected.
“A seven-person bench of the Federal Court made a unanimous decision that Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution is a good law and valid. In Malaysia’s history, it is not often that a Federal Court panel consists of seven members. It was a rare occasion, and a unanimous decision was obtained as well. This reflects the integrity of the decision by the Federal Court.
Chow said that with the Federal Court’s judgement, as directed, the case has been referred back to the High Court to continue with and dispense proceedings following the Federal Court decision.
“We have directed our counsel to get an early date from the High Court to convene and to make a decision in respect of the three OS.”
The proceedings at the High Court were earlier put on hold pending the determination by the Federal Court.
Special sitting(s) to amend the State Constitution and/or to declare the four seats vacant
Chow said those were two different matters despite being very closely related.
“The earlier intention to hold a ‘special sitting’ to amend the State Constitution to be in line with the amendment of the Federal Constitution was made before the recent Federal Court’s decision.
“However, the Federal Court has decided and confirmed that Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution is a good law and therefore the Penang exco concluded that there is no need for the state to amend a good and valid law until it is challenged or overturned in the future.
“That position stays. There will be no special session to amend Article 14A of the Penang State Constitution to be in line with the Federal Constitution’s amendment.
Secondly, concerning the call for a ‘special sitting’ to declare the (four respective) seats vacant, Chow said the Penang government would await the High Court’s decision on the three OS filed by the Seberang Jaya, Sungai Acheh, Bertam and Telok Bahang assemblymen, before taking the next action.
The possibility of a by-election
In reply to a question by a reporter on the possibility of a by-election, Chow gave a general answer instead.
“We do not want to pre-empt the High Court’s decision.
“We rather wait for the High Court’s decision before taking the next step.
It was reported that if a casual vacancy arises at a date which is less than two years from the date on which Parliament’s five-year mandate is expiring under Article 55(3)of the Federal Constitution, no by-election needs to be held.
“If the dissolution of the Penang State Legislative Assembly is called (before the High Court decides on the three OS filed), then all these will become academic.
“The case will set precedent for future generations.
“Bear in mind that the 1992 case of Dewan Undangan Negeri Kelantan versus Nordin Salleh became precedent for 30 years until it was overturned by the latest Federal Court’s decision.
“Hence, this latest unanimous decision which was made by the Federal Court will last until it is overturned in the future,” he said.
In reply to another question by the media, Chow said the four respective individuals could still perform their duty as assemblymen.
“Until a decision is made by the High Court, they are still state assemblymen who can perform their duty, and receive benefits and wages as usual,” Chow added.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi
Video by Darwina Mohd Daud