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Al-Fatihah

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

To what extent Sultan/King should be respected?

Sultan/King is the symbol of sovereignity for the Malaysian as a whole and Malays in particular. The place for the Sultan/King nowadays is still the highest in our society though with not so much power in hand as compared to their predecessors. Certain quarters in our society particularly the Malays are very sensitive when it comes to the Sultan/King to the extent that anybody that goes against the wishes of the Sultan/King has committed an act of disrespectful towards the Sultan/King, thus, being rude.

However, the issue in hand here is how far the Sultanate institution in our country nowadays, with very least power, is respected and can still be relevant in the many years to come? Or it will disappear just like that over time? From legal perspective, Sultan/King does not have much absolute power in term of decision making. In many instances, for example, the Yang Di Pertuan Agong, in making a decision should get the advice from the Prime Minister and conventionally, the advice of the Prime Minister shall prevail. For example, in appointing the Chief Justice, even though the appointment letter is issued by the Yang Di Pertuan Agong, it is in the real sense, made in accordance with the advice and recommendation made by the Prime Minister. So, even on the surface it is the Yang Di Pertuan Agong who made the appointment, in reality, it is the Prime Minister who make the decision.

That is why we normally feel the existence of the Sultan/King when His Royal Highness officiate certain functions.

However, as I mentioned earlier, the Malays society is so sensitive if the Sultan/King is not respected by certain parties. If I can bring you to what happened with regards to the appointment of Perak Menteri Besar whereby the DAP Leader, Lim Kit Siang had asked the DAP wakil rakyat to boycott the swearing in ceremony on the appointment of the Menteri Besar just because DAP could not agree with the Palace's choice of Menteri Besar. As a result, Lim Kit Siang received a lot of pressure and critics which in the end, he (Lim Kit Siang) had to make a public apology to the Sultan of Perak.

How about if it is the Malays who are against the Sultan? Who will make noise? Let us take a look at the issue surrounding the appointment of the Terengganu Menteri Besar, whereby it involves a tussle between the Palace and the Federal Government when both parties have their own preferred candidate to be the Menteri Besar. If legally speaking, it is Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh who is supposed to be appointed as the Menteri Besar, the question is, is it proper to use legal means to deny and go against the wish of the Palace? Which one is more important for the Malays? The wish of the Sultan/King or the wish of the Prime Minister?

Is it proper to use the legal means as a mean to deny and go against the wish of the Palace? If this is allowed to take place, where is the rightful position of the Sultan/King in our society nowadays. Are they still significant if they are continuously legally challenged?

Personally, I am of the opinion that with regard to the issue surrounding the appointment of Terengganu Menteri Besar, the wish of the Palace should prevail over the wish of the Prime Minister. This is so important in order to preserve the dignity of the Sultan of Terengganu, who is also the Yang Di Pertuan Agong. If in the end, the Menteri Besar of Terengganu is the one who is supported by the Prime Minister and not the Palace, it is cleary an act of total disrespectful towards the Sultanate institution in Malaysia. It can also cause the rakyat to lose their confidence and respect towards the Sultan/King, as their (Sultan/King) decision and wish can be overruled by the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

While the Malays, especially UMNO leaders condemned and criticised Lim Kit Siang as I mentioned above, is there any different with what Lim Kit Siang did as compared to UMNO with regard to the appointment of Terengganu Menteri Besar? UMNO's threat to withdraw the UMNO membership of the Terengganu Menteri Besar of the Palace's choice, to me, is regarded as blatant disregard and an act of rudeness towards the Sultan/King. If it is true that Datuk Ahmad Said's membership in UMNO will be withdrawn simply because he followed the Palace's instruction, it simply means that Datuk Ahmad Said will be an independent wakil rakyat and it also means that he is not eligible to be the Menteri Besar, as the Menteri Besar should come from the ruling party, that is BN. Datuk Ahmad Said is also said to have go against the wish and instruction of the President of UMNO if he accepts the appointment. It is with full of sadness to note that simply because he followed the wish of the Palace, which for all intent and purposes, he should, he is now said to be the traitor in the party. With that, I can conclude that the Prime Minister of Malaysia is prevail over the Sultan and it is ok to go against the Sultan but not the Prime Minister...ooops, I thought it should be the other way around?

Having said that, I do not mean that the Palace should be above the law all the time. What I mean is that in handling issue like this, we should not use legal means to outlaw the Sultan/King. In another note, I also believe that the Palace should not involve in politics and not to be politicised and it should remain impartial towards everybody.

Something to ponder upon.

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