PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya can acquire any part of Malaysia provided provisions in the Federal Constitution are complied with, former attorney-general Abu Talib Othman says.
He said, for a start, the affected state must consent to surrender its territory by passing an enactment in its legislature.
However, Talib said, any acquisition of state territories could be blocked now as the Barisan Nasional (BN) central government did not have the two-thirds majority in Parliament to amend the constitution.
“Also, the affected state governments through their state legislatures must pass a law with a simple majority to surrender part of their territories,” he told FMT.
Talib said this in response to an interview Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had with business radio station BFM89.9 on Wednesday where he said he would like to turn Penang, parts of Malacca, and Langkawi island into federal territories.
Adnan had said this would ensure adequate funding and more development for these states.
Talib said Article 2 of the constitution allowed Parliament to alter the boundaries of any state.
“However, the consent of the Conference of Rulers must also be obtained,” he added.
Talib, who was AG for 13 years from 1980, was indirectly involved when Kuala Lumpur was acquired from Selangor in 1974 to be made the federal capital.
“And I was there to ensure all applicable laws and procedures were followed when the federal government acquired Labuan from Sabah in 1984,” he said.
Labuan was made an offshore financial centre while Putrajaya, in 2001, was made the administrative centre of the federal government.
The acquisition of state territories was smooth in earlier days as the BN then enjoyed a super majority in Parliament and controlled almost all the states.
Penang, which is opposed to the federal government, has come out strongly against any move to take over Penang, with Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal saying it showed Putrajaya’s desperation to control the state which it probably felt was now beyond the reach of BN.
Law expert Abdul Aziz Bari said Adnan’s suggestion was an affront and inimical to the democratic spirit that had been kept alive through the federal set-up since 1948.
Penang Barisan Nasional chief Teng Chang Yeow and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng have shot down Adnan’s suggestion.
The then Pakatan Rakyat government, comprising DAP, PKR and PAS, won power in Penang in 2008. It retained the state with an even bigger majority in the 2013 general election.
Langkawi island, which forms part of Kedah, and Malacca are under BN rule.