The Other Voices on Malaysian Politics and Social Issues
Friday, 31 May 2013
Malaysian Malay Rulers are Constitutional Monarchs. They Should NOT Engage Themselves in the Politics of the State. The Selangor Sultan Must Set a Good Example of a Constitutional Monarch in Dealing with the Rakyat's Representatives.
THE RECENT APPARENT STAND-OFF BETWEEN THE RAKYAT'S REPRESENTATIVES IN SELANGOR AND THE ROYAL PALACE IS UNTENABLE IN OUR CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY SYSTEM. IN OUR FORM OF DEMOCRACY, THE WILL OF THE RAKYAT EXPRESSED THROUGH ITS REPRESENTATIVES IN MATTERS OF THE RUNNING OF THE GOVERNMENT REMAINS PARAMOUNT.
THE MENTERI BESAR IS THE ELECTED HEAD OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE RAKYAT. HE REPRESENTS THE WILL OF THE RAKYAT, WHICH IS TO BE RESPECTED BY ALL, INCLUDING THE CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHS
UNLESS THERE ARE REASONS THAT AFFAIRS OF THE STATE WILL COMPROMISE THE WELL-BEING OF THE RAKYAT, THE ROLE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCH IS TO SUPPORT AND FACILITATE THE HEAD OF GOVERNMENT FOR HE/SHE REPRESENTS THE WILL OF THE RAKYAT, NOT TO CREATE DISSENT AND OBSTACLES. AS SUCH, INDIVIDUAL AND PERSONAL WHIMS AND FANCIES OF CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHS SHOULD NOT BRING TO BEAR ON AFFAIRS OF GOVERNMENT, MORE SO IN THE COMPOSITION OF THE RAKYAT'S REPRESENTATIVES TO RUN THE GOVERNMENT
THUS, IT DOES NOT DO ANY FAVOURS TO THE INSTITUTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY IF THE ELECTED HEAD OF GOVERNMENT IS CONSISTENTLY BEING EMBARRASSED BY THE ROYAL PALACE AND MADE TO LOOK SUBSERVIENT TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHS IN MATTERS OF RUNNING OF THE GOVERNMENT.
The constitutional amendments that were passed in 1983 had actually removed whatever discretionary power the sultans had hitherto enjoyed in matters to do with the selection of the MB and the appointment of the state cabinet.
After those amendments were passed, state rulers were bound to accept the advice of the MB, loath as they sometimes are to do so.
The amendments had divested the rulers of their discretionary power, making the advice of the executive well-nigh irresistible.
But things THESE DAYS are a long way removed from the 1980s when Umno was monarch of all it surveyed in the political realm.
Constitutional pundits were left scratching their heads as to how matters with respect to the selection and swearing-in of the exco could be as protracted as the Selangor saga turned out to be.
After the constitutional crisis in Perak in early 2009 when Umno-BN enjoyed royal favour in deposing the Pakatan government of Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin, the rulers began to claw back the powers and influence they had enjoyed prior to their 1983 decimation.
The exco saga in Selangor the past four weeks was played out against this backdrop of royals seeking to push back at the Umno-engineered limits placed on them by the 1983 amendments.
Thus Pakatan MB-designate Khalid Ibrahim, days before he took the oath of office as MB on May 14, was subjected to the embarrassment of having a letter read out in his presence that was written by the Selangor PKR secretary to the sultan which not-so-subtly undermined Khalid's claims to a second term of office.
Senior state civil servants, known to be proxies of Umno, were present while the letter was read out at a royal audience, causing Khalid no small chagrin.
Meanwhile, putting aside his pique at having elements in his own party deal him a low blow at a royal audience, Khalid kept his cool and continued the palaver with the sultan on the overall composition of the state cabinet, pirouetting within the narrow confines imposed by the sultan's insistence on the ratio of Malays to non-Malays (variously reported to be seven Malays to three non-Malays and, latter, six to four) and the advice of his own party that, pace the 1983 amendments, the constitution allowed the MB upper hand in the matter.
Despite two demonstrations by PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim on how he, when he was deputy prime minister, had convinced rulers to abide by the advice of the executive in precisely such matters as the composition of the state exco, Khalid, either because of a lack of skill or a paucity of nerve, was unable to shift the sultan.
Further, his attempt to have Dr Xavier Jeyakumar retained in the PKR trio of exco members for the 2013-2018 term was shot down by the sultan who apparently revealed that he was deluged with letters and petitions from PKR types about the dentist's shortcomings.Khalid demurred that the claims against Jeyakumar were unproven allegations and, therefore, should not be held against the man. Khalid's pleas turned out to be unavailing.
Now party supremo Anwar is preparing to lead a PKR delegation for a requested audience with the sultan, presumably to discuss palace-to-party relations.
Perhaps what would be more useful to PKR would be an internal party seminar on the true import of the 1983 constitutional amendments and on how party functionaries could avoid undermining each other.