KUCHING: It is too late for former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to regret and feel sorry for his decision of amending the Federal Constitution to restrict the role of Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the legislative branch, says Assistant Minister for Housing Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
Still, Abdul Karim – also Assistant Minister for Youth and Sports – believes that ‘it is better late than never’, as far as Dr Mahathir is concerned.
“Tun Mahathir, during his tenure as prime minister, had curtailed the powers of the Agong as the final ‘safeguard’ for the passing of the laws.
“He also removed judges whom he felt, back then, were a hindrance to him. It’s good that he has finally realised his mistake and apologised for it,” he said.
Abdul Karim, who is Asajaya assemblyman, said now that Dr Mahathir had admitted his mistake, it would be up to the present federal administration to relook into these amendments to the Federal Constitution and review on the need to revert it to how it was before.
In 1994, the Malaysian government, led by Dr Mahathir, passed amendments to the Constitution that would allow any Bill passed in the Parliament and the Senate to become law within 30 days – with or without the royal assent.
Dr Mahathir said it would seem that due to the amendments, the new National Security Council (NSC) Act had become operational, even though the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had not signed it.
However, he said anything that had to do with the Agong’s right to declare emergencies would still require his signature.
The NSC Act grants the prime minister the power to declare security zones, whereby the security forces would take charge.
Critics have said this is akin to declaring an emergency – something that only the Agong could do.
On Feb 17 this year, the Conference of Rulers asked for the NSC Bill to be refined, but this had yet to be done.
Following that, according to the national gazette, the NSC Bill was automatically assented the following day (Feb 18) as per the amendments that Dr Mahathir oversaw. The Bill was gazetted into law in June, and enforced on Aug 1.