Hannah Yeoh can end all the squabbling
Speaker has her own power to call next sitting of Dewan Negeri
Hannah Yeoh, Speaker of the Selangor state assembly, has the power to cut through the current public squabbling about Khalid Ibrahim and call a meeting of the assembly to decide whether Khalid should remain in office.
As head of the state legislature she can call the meeting by herself. She does not need the sultan’s approval beforehand.
Her power to do so is provided for by law, under the Standing Orders of the house. It allows the Speaker to set dates and call for a sitting of an assembly, while it is in session.
House runs own affairs
Only the Sultan can summon the assembly into session, and only the Sultan can dissolve the assembly. Those powers are under the Constitution, the supreme law.
But once the assembly is called into session, the house looks after its own affairs, as the legislature is an independent arm of constitutional government.
The sultan has already called the assembly into session: that was in April when the Sultan opened this year’s session; the house held its first sitting after that, and a second sitting was held in June. (A session usually lasts one year.)
The house is currently in recess after it adjourned sine die (without setting a new date) in June. The date of the next sitting will thus be decided by the Speaker, and the Clerk of the House will give members at least 28 days’ notice of the new date.
It is plain administrative procdure with no constitutional implications. These matters are clearcut and have been standard practice for half a century.
Simple procedure by head of independent legislature
Once the Sultan has summoned the assembly and opened the session, he leaves them to carry out their business themselves. There is no longer a need for royal intervention or approval although by courtesy the palace is kept informed.
As head of the legislature, Hannah Yeoh has the power to let the state assembly decide on Khalid Ibrahim. She has the power to call the assembly’s next sitting. It is merely administrative procedure.
At the sitting, any assembly member can, with the Speaker’s approval, table a motion of confidence to decide whether Khalid Ibrahim, member for Port Kelang, should remain in office as menteri besar.
Confidence motion allows full, open debate by all wakil rakyat
Tabling a motion will allow for a full, open, and public debate on the issue by all the representatives of the people, and for a vote by all the people’s representatives assembled in session.
If a confidence motion goes against Khalid, he is duty bound under the constitution to resign. The Sultan then has discretion whether to choose a new menteri besar from among any of the assembly members, or to dissolve the legislature, leading to new elections.
That is how people power works under the current system, where the people delegate their power to their elected representatives. When a member speaks in the house, he is (supposed to) speak on behalf of his constituency. That is why they are referred to by the name of their constituency (eg YB Kampung Tunku), and not by their own names.
It’s been a week since Parti Keadilan Rakyat expelled Khalid Ibrahim from membership of the party. The politicians and their allies are still squabbling in public about what effect this has on Khalid’s position, with outside “experts” and the media fanning the flames of controversy.
The power to decide lies is in the hands of the assembly members, the wakil rakyat. They have the power to vote. The Speaker has the power to set a date. It’s the law.
What’s holding them back?