KUALA LUMPUR • The Selangor ruler yesterday waded into a controversy involving the appointment of the state's new menteri besar, in an unusual move by a Malaysian sultan to defend his action.
On Tuesday, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah anointed assemblyman Amirudin Shari as the new chief minister, a move disputed by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader Idris Ahmad who said he has documents to prove he was the choice of the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance.
Sultan Sharafuddin, through a statement by the Selangor palace, responded that he had based his action on a letter by PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on June 7 that superseded all previous documents and that under the Selangor Constitution, he had the right to pick his menteri besar.
His explanation is closely watched after the Malaysian King, Sultan Muhammad V, was recently accused of not adhering to the country's Constitution in delaying the appointment of a new prime minister after the ouster of Barisan Nasional.
The King was later accused of delaying the appointment of a new Attorney-General. Sultan Muhammad V denied both accusations, saying he had adhered to the Constitution.
In the Selangor case, the PKR assemblyman Dr Idris called a news conference at around the same time as the swearing-in ceremony to say he was the consensus menteri besar candidate approved by the four-party PH that governs Malaysia and Selangor.
He showed reporters documents as proof that he had the support of the other leaders of Selangor PH.
Dr Idris claimed Mr Amirudin was only accepted by the PKR faction led by deputy president Azmin Ali, implying that Sultan Sharafuddin should not have accepted Mr Amirudin's ascension.
In explaining the Sultan's decision, the Selangor palace said it was based on a letter it received from Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah, according to Malaysian media reports.
"In the letter, Dr Wan Azizah had asked for His Royal Highness to grant an audience to any of the candidates that he felt was eligible to hold the position.
"The letter indirectly cancels out a previous letter written by the heads of Selangor political parties to the Sultan," the palace said, according to The Star newspaper.
"For the record, the Sultan is cognisant of the provisions under the law, where he must appoint as menteri besar a state assemblyman whom he believes has the majority support in the state assembly, as well as being of Malay-Muslim descent," the statement added.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister, said on Tuesday that the appointment of Mr Amirudin should be allowed to "run smoothly".
The palace also addressed a claim by Dr Idris that Datuk Seri Azmin's reappointment as menteri besar two days after the general election last month was not approved by PH. Sultan Sharafuddin said leaders of the four PH parties had written asking him to reappoint Mr Azmin.
Mr Azmin stepped down on Tuesday to concentrate on his job as Economic Affairs Minister.
"The palace always abides by the rule of law and convention in any action, and does not involve itself in political issues," the statement read.