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OF recent political drama that is developing in the country, the common subject that unites both sides of the political divide is: statutory declarations (SD).
It seems that both parties are measuring support based on SDs that are purportedly signed favouring one candidate over the other.
SDs are basically declarations made under the Statutory Declarations Act 1960 (Revised 2016).
What makes the declarations special compared to other types of declarations is that the Statutory Declarations Act 1960 makes it a criminal offence for a person to falsely declared any facts or averments.
Therefore, any person making a SD is presumed to be stating the truth and nothing else.
Of late, and especially since the Perak Assembly fiasco that happened shortly after Pakatan Harapan came to power via General Elections in 2008, the use of SDs by MPs and assemblymen have become somewhat a norm in either switching or affirming alliances.
In the Perak experience, three of the then Pakatan Harapan assemblymen switched their allegiance via SDs, which caused the state government to fall short of the required majority and paved the way for Barisan Nasional to assume power.
The then PH Menteri Besar, Nizar Jamaluddin, filed an action in the high court and succeeded. However, the decision was reversed by the Court of Appeal, which was subsequently affirmed by the Federal Court.
The latter in Nizar Jamaluddin v Zambry Abdul Kadir had the opportunity to decide on a pertinent issue: whether the ruler was right in deciding that the menteri besar had lost the majority without first allowing the majority to be tested in the assembly.
The apex court was, before deciding that the sultan was right, mindful of the two conflicting positions in Amir Kahar v Mohd Salleh Keruak (which supported the position that the test on whether the Menteri besar has lost confidence can be determined outside the assembly) and Mustapha v Mohd Adnan Robert (which laid down that the test must be in the assembly).
The view of the court in Mustapha was supported by the view taken by the court in the case of Stephen Kalong Ningkan.
The decision of the Federal Court in Nizar’s case has finally settled the position that the majority held by the menteri besar can be decided by other means especially when the assembly is not in session.
The natural consequence of the decision is that politicians from all political divides resorted to using alleged SDs to play what is currently known as ‘the numbers game’.
Another such political drama, that was not too long ago, can be seen in the aftermath of the 14th General Elections in Sabah.
What was peculiar in the Sabah situation was that the switch of allegiance happened at a speed of light and there were suspicions that SDs of the same assemblymen were used by both competing claims.
If indeed it is true, the value and weight of a SD affirmed by an assemblyman or MP is questionable. Though affirming a false SD is a crime, generally, minds and wishes of politicians could also change from time to time as Malaysia do not have any anti hopping laws.