PUTRAJAYA — Aug. 6, 2019: An amendment to the federal Constitution ended the role of the Agong from that of a constitutional monarch to a mere rubber stamp, argued a lawyer today while challenging the validity of the National Security Act on behalf of Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
When submitting before a seven-member Federal Court bench, Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram held that the NSC ias unconstitutional as it becomes a law pursuant to an unconstitutional amendment to Article 66 of the Constitution.
“Royal assent is an executive act performed by the King and its dispensation cuts across the basic constitutional function of the monarch,” pointed out Sri Ram at the hearing of a constitutional reference brought by Anwar.
In 1994, Article 66 was amended to allow a bill to become law even if not assented to within 30 days after it was presented to the King.
According to Sri Ram, the requirement for royal assent is a control mechanism and Parliament had violated the basic structure following the amendment.
“Any law, including a law amending the Constitution is invalid if it violates the basic structure of the Constitution.
“The amendment was unnecessary as the King must give his assent to make a bill into law on the advice of the minister as required under Article 40 (1) of the Constitution,” he argued.
Sri Ram also described the 30-day period for a bill to automatically become law was an eyewash, the amendment “Hollywood” and a waste of parliamentary time.
Senior federal counsel Alice Loke countered that the amendment does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution. Instead it merely reaffirms the position that the King does not have discretion to refuse assent.
“The amendment was made to stipulate the period in which the bill becomes law if not assented to by the King,” Loke said, adding that it was expedient to provide so in the event such an eventuality happened.