PETALING JAYA: Zaid Ibrahim, a former law minister, has questioned the motive behind comments by de facto law minister Takiyuddin Hassan implying that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had approved of a new RM100,000 fine for dissemination or creation of fake news.
Zaid said that although ordinances made during the state of the emergency required royal assent, such consent did not mean the laws are in line with the king’s personal views and opinions.
“At a glance, this is what our law minister wants to convey. If this was his intention, it is a misinterpretation and deliberately done to gain the people’s support for what is contained in the ordinance. This is very dangerous,” he said in a Facebook posting.
Takiyuddin had said on Friday, when the “fake news” law came into effect, that the king’s assent to the new ordinance indicated that the king approved of the contents of the ordinance.
Zaid said that in a constitutional monarchy, the ruler must act on the advice of the cabinet rather than follow his personal dictate.
Zaid suggested that Takiyuddin’s comments might have been made to persuade those critical of the law to change their tone. The law has come under fire from opposition politicians, civil society and the public.
“If the policies and regulations do not have the support of the people or are hated by them, the minister cannot say that they were approved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.” said Zaid.
“Politicians cannot take cover by using the palace. If every time the cabinet is forced to mention the name of the palace to defend its policy, then the palace will be dragged into the political arena.”
Zaid also took issue with a constitutional interpretation by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that the king was empowered to act on his own volition in a state of emergency and could dismiss the cabinet and the prime minister without acting on advice.
He said if Takiyuddin wished to follow that interpretation, then he must accept the king’s decision should he decide to sack Takiyuddin and the rest of the cabinet.
However, if Takiyuddin wished the king to act on advice, as is the current practice, then Takiyuddin should not associate royal assent of laws as being His Majesty’s support and agreement “to defend government policies and decisions that are unpopular and hated by many”, Zaid said.