Yesterday, Malaysians saw the sorry spectacle of Paul Low who took his oath as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department on 16th May 2013 before the Yang di Pertuan Agong at the Istana Negara pathetically telling the media to “Ask Putrajaya” when questioned about the legality of his appointment to the Cabinet as he has not been sworn in as a senator yet.
This is the first time in the 56-year history of Malaysia where two Ministers and three Deputy Ministers have been placed in the Cabinet and constitutional limbo for ten days after the announcement of their ministerial appointments, as they had the dubious honour of being illegal Ministers and Deputy Ministers during this period as they have not been sworn in as Senators yet.
I had expected very quick and efficient end to the constitutional farce of two illegal Ministers and three illegal Deputy Ministers by having the five to be sworn in as Senators on the very night, even if it is midnight, when I issued my statement pointing out the grave constitutional oversight – i.e. on Friday 17th May 2013.
But I was wrong. Day after day, the two Ministers and three deputy Ministers did not know whether they were coming or going, become butts of jokes as illegal and unlawful “backdoor” Ministers and Deputy Ministers – with the sorry and pathetic spectacle of Paul Low yesterday as the latest example.
Why the 10-day impotence and hiatus by Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to rectify the constitutional farce of appointing on Wednesday, 15th May and on Thursday, 16th May, illegally swearing in two Ministers and three Deputy Ministers without first appointing them as Senators?
I understand that there are some smart alecs claiming that it is not unconstitutional to appoint a Minister or a Deputy Minister without first being sworn in as a Senator where the appointees are not elected Members of Parliament – and a lot of brainy people have been put to work to build and present such a case.
This is probably why the newly re-appointed Senate President Abu Zahar Ujang sidestepped the matter at his own swearing-in on Tuesday, saying cryptically, that he would “put things in order”.
If Najib is going to take the stand that it is perfectly constitutional to swear in the two Minister and three Deputy Minister without their first taking their oath as Senators, then let the Prime Minister say so publicly, loud and clear as this constitutional charade should not go on any further.
In fact, it would not be adequate for the two Ministers and three Deputy Ministers now in constitutional limbo to be sworn in first as Senators before they can take up their ministerial positions, they have also to be sworn in again as Ministers and Deputy Ministers before the Yang di Pertuan Agong as their earlier oath-taking ceremony before the Yang di Pertuan Agong on 16th May was clearly unlawful, null and void.
In fact, the two Ministers and three Deputy Ministers concerned should expect their Ministerial positions and all their ministerial decisions and actions to be challenged in the courts if they are not sworn in again as Ministers and Deputy Ministers after they have taken their oath as Senators.
In keeping with the principles of accountability and transparency, the Prime Minister should explain who are the officers who were responsible for this grave constitutional farce and oversight, embarrassing not only the nation but also the Yang di Pertuan Agong, and why it is taking such a long time to end the constitutional charade.