(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP fully supports the Sultan of Selangor that the next Mentri Besar of the state is "really clean and honest" and calls on all intending candidates for the post to publicly declare their assets to set an example of public accountability and integrity.
The warnings by some UMNO leaders, like the UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the Deputy Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz, that the refusal by the Sultan of Selangor to agree to the slate of candidates for the Mentri Besarís post presented to him yesterday by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, could provoke a constitutional crisis is misplaced.
The Sultan of Selangor had told reporters after the 45-minute meeting with Mahathir at Istana Selangor that there were several names presented "but they were all not appropriate".
The Sultan said: "The person should not work for his own interest but the people. He must also be careful before giving out anything to avoid wastage."
He said he regretted the way state land was being given away and asked: "Where am I to run if land in Selangor is all given away? Pulau Ketam?"
I do not think anyone, whether political leader or ordinary rakyat, could disagree and oppose the concerns of the Sultan of Selangor about having a "clean and honest" Mentri Besar to protect the best interests of the people and state of Selangor.
I am sure Dr. Mahathir, who had made a very powerful speech at last Octoberís UMNO General Assembly on the need to stamp out money politics and corruption in high political circles and even shed tears at the prospect of unchecked corruption, also agrees that the next Mentri Besar should be "really clean".
This is why Mahahtir disclosed to the press that he had told the Sultan during the audience that he needed time to "search and find out (the situation) and do much more in order to get information" before deciding on the most suitable candidate.
Nazri is not so correct on the constitutional position of the appointment of the Mentri Besar when he said that in a constitutional monarchy, the sultan has no right to withhold assent to any candidate and that such decisions are made by political parties as the people voted for the parties not for the Sultan.
The UMNO Youth chief Datuk Ahmad Zahid is completely wrong when he said that the sultan should not invite a constitutional crisis between the government and the palace because the sultanís rights and privileges are only a courtesy and that the executive power lie with the Prime Minister.
This is because if we go by the strict constitutional interpretation on the appointment of the Mentri Besar, there is no reference to the role of the Prime Minister in the Selangor State Constitution.
Secondly, the powers and functions of the ruler in a constitutional monarchy is not one of "courtesy", but one of the few substantive privileges and prerogatives of the ruler to be exercised solely at his discretion, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
The Selangor State Constitution, like all constitutions of constitutional monarchies, spells out clearly that the ruler shall appoint as head of government a person "who commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the Assembly". There is no mention of political parties or the Prime Minister in the Constitution.
In exercise of his discretion and prerogatives, the Sultan of Selangor is completely within his constitutional rights and powers, at a time when there is a higher expectation of the standards of accountability and integrity not only by the general public but also by Mahathir himself, to inquire and to discuss with the Prime Minister whether his slate of candidates measures up to these expectations as to be able to command the confidence of the majority of the Assembly members and even more important, the general public.
Of course, if it is the decision of the political party having the support of the majority of Assembly members to insist on having as Mentri Besar a person who is not so clean or honest, then the Sultan of Selangor will have no choice but to give his assent - but he would have discharged his constitutional duties in checking whether such a person could command the confidence of the majority of the Assembly members by giving the political party concerned an opportunity to reconsider its decision!
What the Sultan of Selangor had done, within his constitutional limitations, to ensure that the next Mentri Besar is "really clean and honest", should be commended and supported by all - and should not be made the subject of warnings about impending constitutional crisis in Selangor - as there is no basis for such speculation whatsoever.