So I was asked, in a question regarding Tommy Thomas latest article Appointment of Prime Minister after General Elections, whether the Agong had 6 months to decide who is the next Prime Minister.
The questioner obviously had in mind the provision in Article 55(1) of the Federal Constitution which provides as follows:-
(1) The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall from time to time summon Parliament and shall not allow six months to elapse between the last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first meeting in the next session.
But that provision is basically talking about the time period between sittings from session to session, and does not talk about the scenario when Parliament has been dissolved.
The relevant provision in that scenario seems to be Article 55(4), which provides:
4) Whenever Parliament is dissolved a general election shall be held within sixty days from the date of the dissolution and Parliament shall be summoned to meet on a date not later than one hundred and twenty days from that date.
So the question is whether “on a date not later than 120 days from that date” means the date of dissolution or the date of the general election.
If its the date of dissolution, then its 60 days from dissolution to hold the general election and 120 days from dissolution to summon Parliament (even if the general election is held, as now, before the 60 days is up).
But if its 120 days from the date of the general election, then that’s a very long time. That would effectively give the 6 month time period from dissolution for a new Parliament to be summoned, and would leave the country in the hands of a caretaker government for that long.
I can’t find any case law on this (I must admit, I haven’t tried to look very hard) but Professor Shad Saleem Faruqi seems to think that the 120 days starts from the date of dissolution. He says in his article Constitutional Posers For GE13 that:
It is submitted that Article 55(4) requires that after one dissolution the new parliament must be convened within 120 days.
I think that must be right. I don’t think the Constitution gives the Agong 6 months before he can summon Parliament again. It only gives him 120 days from the date of the dissolution. And so, according to timeanddate.com, that means Parliament must be summoned again no later than Thursday, 1st August 2013.