When I was away on Saturday, Malaysiakini published a very important article by Ong Kian Ming and Oon Yeoh titled The problem with royal activism.
I have been one of the few bloggers who were openly concerned with ‘royal political activism’. I used the word ‘openly concerned’ because I had received several letters or notes from other bloggers who informed me they shared the same concerns but won’t come out in the open to say what I had said.
When I talk about ‘royal political activism’ I am not talking about politicians like Tengku Razaleigh or the late Tengku Abdul Rahman or the (what’s his name?) former Tourism Minister. I mean the Sultans or Regents or Crown Princes, people who have immunity from most of the laws applicable to commoners but who by virtue of such immunity should not come down to the commoners (or political) arena.
These royalty should stay above politics and not overstretch the limits of their constitutional rights as free rein to engage directly in political activism.
What Ong Kian Ming and Oon Yeoh said has been absolutely right, about “Some people, perhaps simply because they like seeing Pak Lah squirm under the royal thumb in Perlis and Terengganu – cheered on the royalty, saying that their intervention was a good thing.”
“But it all depends on whose ox is being gored, doesn't it? Would these very same people cheer on the sultan's actions if this had happened to the opposition?”
Personally I have not been happy with the actions of the Sultans of Perlis and Terengganu, even though the loser had been AAB. We shouldn’t rejoice that AAB had his ass whipped nicely by royalty because those royalty must not interfere with the decision making of the PM, the people’s choice of a national leader selected in accordance with our democratic process.
It’s hypocritical to talk about democratic process when we cheer processes that haven't been politically correct just because those processes have gone against a disliked person.
The Sultans should never have gone against the choice of the majority party in its selection of the State MBs. No doubt AAB eventually succumbed to a compromise because he was trying to minimize the aggravations particularly at a bad time for him, but the constitutional process was incredibly wrong, and rather sadly many cheered the Sultans and even provided justifications.
But I believe all those have been, as mentioned by Ong and Oon, more to jeer AAB and UMNO rather than cheer the royalty. But we might have unwittingly encourage the royalty to think otherwise.
When prior to the election, the idea of royalty as our political silver bullet was promoted at Malaysia-Today, I was one of those very few who warned against jacking royalty up above its constitutional role – please read Dangerous euphoria over 'political' royalty.
I had written “we need to remember Malaysia is a democracy built around a constitutional monarchy, meaning the voice of the people, and not those of the rulers, prevails.”
In my other post Rulers no 'Silver Bullet' you can also read what renown writer Farish Noor has to say.
What the Crown Prince of Kelantan had recently said publicly – please read Kelantan Crown Prince 'slapped' non-Malays in face! - shows the dangers of allowing royalty to interfere actively with democratic process.
And our knowledge of how a certain royalty and members of his family had behaved should be of grave concerns, if they somehow imagine that such public (opposition) support represents an imprimatur for them to resume behaving like royalties did in the days of Hang Tuah.
Ong and Oon provided some extreme examples of royal political activisms which could take us into deeper hotter constitutional waters.
Let the conduct of absolute royalty with its direct political activism in those bad days of Hang Tuah remain forever in the pages of Munshi Abdullah’s Hikayat.