The Round Table Conference is convened to discuss whether the new tenth Parliament had been unconstitutionally convened on December 20, 1999 and as a consequence, whether all the laws and businesses enacted by the tenth Parliament last month or in the next five years would be infected by illegality and unconstitutionality.
The facts of the case are simple and straightforward:
The tenth general election was held on 29th November 1999.
On 9th December, 1999, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong issued a proclamation summoning the new tenth Parliament to meet on 20th December 1999.
On 13th December, 1999, pursuant to the royal proclamation, Parliament issued a notice to all MPs on the first meeting of Parliament on 20th December 1999.
However, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet Ministers were only sworn in on 14th December 1999 and the new Cabinet had its first meeting on 15th December 1999.
Is the convening of the new tenth Parliament in accordance with the Constitution and if not, what are the consequences of such an unconstitutional convening of the new Parliament?
Article 55 of the Constitution vests powers on the Yang di Pertuan Agong
to summon Parliament, but Article 40 provides that in exercising his functions,
the Yang di Pertuan Agong shall act in accordance with the advice of the
Cabinet, except for three specific matters where he "may act in his discretion",
(a) the appointment of a Prime Minister;
(b) the withholding of consent to a request for a dissolution of Parliament;
(c) the requisitioning of a meeting of the Conference of Rulers concerned solely with the privileges, position, honours and dignities of Their Royal Highnesses, and any action at such a meeting.
The Yang di Pertuan Agong has no "discretion" but must act on Cabinet advice on the summoning of Parliament.
However, the new Cabinet Ministers were only sworn in on 14th December and the first Cabinet meeting held on 15th December 1999.
There was therefore no Cabinet to advice the Yang di Pertuan Agong before 15th December 1999 to summon Parliament - to authorise the proclamation of the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon Parliament on Dec. 20, resulting in the Setiausaha Parlimen on 13th December issuing a notice to the 193 new MPs informing them of the meeting.
The government has contended that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was advised by the caretaker Prime Minister before the formation of the new Cabinet.
Can a caretaker Prime Minister advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong to invoke Article 55 to summon the first meeting of the new tenth Parliament, even before the new Prime Minister was sworn in, the new Cabinet Ministers appointed/sworn-in and the new Cabinet held its first meeting?
If a caretaker Prime Minister cannot usurp the powers of a new Cabinet still-to-be-formed to advise the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon the first meeting of the new tenth Parliament on December 20, 1999, then the country would be faced with the constitutional case of the millennium.
If the tenth Parliament had not be convened in accordance with the Constitution on December 20, 1999, all laws and businesses passed by the tenth Parliament might be null and void, and every law enacted by such an unconstitutionally-convened Parliament open to legal challenge as to its legality, whether now, a year or even five years later.
Furthermore, any legal action to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the convening of the tenth Parliament will affect the legality of all the bills and businesses by the new tenth Parliament, not only in the four-day meeting in December 1999, but in all future meetings as well as the legality of the Ministers and MPs arising from the unlawful oath-taking on 20th December 1999.
Admission to the Round Table Conference on the Constitution, Parliament and the Rule of Law is strictly by invitation only.