Govt can stay on as caretaker in M'sia

Razak Ahmad in Petaling Jaya/The Star
Asia News Network18 January 2013

Petaling Jaya (The Star/ANN) - The current government can remain in office in a caretaker capacity until the next general election in Malaysia, regardless of whether the House of Representatives-Dewan Rakyat-is dissolved early or allowed to run its full five-year term.

Constitutional law expert Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi said that if the prime minister decides to let parliament run until its expiry on April 27, the Election Commission could then fix polling dates without having to wait for any formal notice.

"The dissolution of Parliament is automatic after the end of its term. So in such a case, the PM does not have to inform the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that the Parliament's term has ended and neither is there a need for any intervention by the King," said Shad Faruqi, who is Emeritus Professor of Law at Universiti Teknologi Mara.

He was commenting on what would happen if the Dewan Rakyat was allowed to go its full five years.

Whether parliament is dissolved early or allowed to run its full term, the latest dates for polling remain unchanged.

"From the date Parliament is dissolved, elections must be held within 60 days and no more than 120 days must pass before the swearing- in of the new parliament."

Allowing parliament to run its full term would pose no legal or technical difficulties but Shad Faruqi said it would be "fairer" if the time frame between polls be fixed.

He said Britain, which Malaysia's parliamentary system is based on, had introduced a new law known as the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 in which the dates of elections are fixed every five years.

"It's much fairer if the time is fixed because if two sides are about to have a heavyweight bout at the ballot, then the date should be fixed so the opponent will be able to prepare better," said Shad Faruqi.