Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 30th December 2010:
Chief Secretary's appointment of Selangor State Secretary without consultation with Mentri Besar violation of both the spirit and letter of Selangor Constitution
The appointment of Datuk Mohd Khusrin Munawi as the new Selangor State Secretary by the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan on behalf of the Public Service Commission, without consultation with the Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, violates both the spirit and letter of the Selangor Constitution.
It has been argued that there is no mention in the state constitution that the Mentri Besar must first be informed of the appointment nor that his consent was needed.
This is a flimsy and unacceptable argument, for going by this literal interpretation, Putrajaya should not have involved the Sultan in the appointment of the state secretary as there is equally no mention in the state constitution that the Sultan must first be informed of the appointment nor that any royal consent is needed.
What is pertinent is that constitutional conventions like meaningful consultation with the Mentri Besar and the Sultan on the appointment of the top state civil servant are carried out to uphold the integrity of the state constitution and to fulfill the mandate given by the people of Selangor when they voted for the government of their choice in the last general elections.
Although the Selangor State Constitution is silent on the role of the Mentri Besar on the appointment of the state secretary, just as it is silent on the role of the Sultan on the same matter, the Chief Secretary who has been delegated the constitutional task to make the appointment, should be mindful of the different political coalitions running the Federal and Selangor state governments and the importance of ensuring an appointee who could work as a bridge-builder or at least not seen as inimical to the Selangor state government interests vis-à-vis the Federal government.
This is where the constitutional convention of meaningful consultation with the Mentri Besar on the appointment of the state secretary should have been observed.
The healthy growth of Federal-state relations and parliamentary democracy at both the national and state levels would be greatly harmed if the spirit and letter of the constitution, as in having meaningful consultation with the Mentri Besar on the appointment of the state secretary, could be trampled upon and the state constitution misinterpreted to allow the Federal government to impose the most unpopular officer on the state government - against the manifest wishes and will of the State Executive Council, the majority of the elected Legislative Assembly members and the voters in the state.
Article 55 of the Selangor State Constitution on “Sultan to act on advice” provides that the Sultan shall act in accordance with the advice of the State Executive Council except for specific instances – and the appointment of the state secretary is not one of the exceptional cases where the Sultan may act in his discretion.
Both the spirit and letter of the Selangor Constitution are violated when the Mentri Besar is shut out from any meaningful consultation on the appointment of the state secretary.
Sidek should remedy this violation of the spirit and letter of the state constitution in the appointment of the Selangor state secretary by carrying out a meaningful consultation process with the Mentri Besar on the appointment of the new state secretary and spare the country and people a constitutional crisis.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor