PETALING JAYA, 5 Dec 2008: Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) call for the return of legislative power to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to veto bills passed in Parliament is based on the pre-1993 constitutional amendment, said its vice-president R Sivarasa.
He said what PKR had proposed at its congress on 29 Nov was a return to the situation whereby the King had the opportunity to return a bill to Parliament with his reservations.
The two houses of Parliament would have to re-pass the bill, taking into account the King’s reservations, before re-submitting the bill to the King.
Following an amendment in 1993, Article 66 of the Federal Constitution is now silent on whether the King is able to return a bill to Parliament. He is given 30 days to give his assent to the bill, failing which, the bill becomes law, nevertheless.
Sivarasa clarified that what PKR wanted was for the King to be able to return the bill to Parliament, and that the party was not asking for “absolute veto power” for the King whereby he could irrevocably reject any proposed legislation.
PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had said in her speech at the congress that the party wanted to restore the dignity of the Rulers. In a press conference after her speech, it was explained that the party only wanted restoration of royal power to veto legislation.
“When she said that PKR wanted to restore the constitution to its pre-amendment position, it was clear that this was a return to the original position where the Agong could reject and send legislation back to Parliament once. This was the ‘veto’ she spoke of,” Sivarasa said in a statement to The Nut Graph.
Sivarasa also said the party adhered to the principle of the supremacy of Parliament, whereby under the present constitutional amendment, if Parliament were to return a bill to the King — either in its original form or amended — it would be final and the King would have to assent to it.
He said this stand had been reiterated by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at a press conference in Parliament on 2 Dec. “The allegation of PKR ‘misrepresenting’ the Federal Constitution cannot therefore arise,” Sivarasa said.
Shad’s contention, however, was with the word “veto” and that the king never had this power even before the 1993 amendment. This was because even after sending the bill back to Parliament with his objections, he would eventually still have had to give his assent or the bill would still be passed into law, regardless of the King’s objections.