Saturday, March 15, 2008

Royalty threatens constitutional crisis?

As I mentioned in this morning post Lim Kit Siang opened Royal Pandora Box? a State ruler cannot reject the candidate forwarded by the party with the winning majority (by itself or in a formal or informal coalition) for his approval, save where there is perceivable concerns the candidate has a dodgy record or perhaps is infirmed, or the coalition isn’t politically stable, which may affect the proposed candidate’s ability to head the State government.

Professor Shad Faruqi, a constitutional law expert, pointed out clearly while the rulers have the constitutional rights to approve the appointment of MBs, they should NOT be involved in politics and do NOT have absolute discretion in making their choices, and ought not to allow personal feelings to colour their judgments.

Yes, those rulers should accept the political parties’ choices, save in the most obvious case of a candidate who's mentally, physically or legally unfit to head the administration, or where the coalition he/she heads isn’t stable enough to endure the term until the next state election.

But frighteningly, from a constitutional point, Malaysiakini has reported that the Sultan of Terengganu may well be going too far, based on the yardstick that Prof Shad has advised.

HRH hasn’t been impressed with the former MB, Idris Jusoh and has indicated through his state's Regency Advisory Council (his son is only 11 years old) that he wants a different person. His unhappiness with Idris Jusoh has been about the heavy-handed police action leading to the
Batu Buruk riot on Sept 8 last year. HRH believed such a domestic brouhaha could have been managed without the use of live bullets.

Then HRH is also unhappy with the police teargas-ing PAS supporters on polling day in Rusila. The palace reckons Idris Jusoh’s administration had influenced the police to act in such drastic fashion.

Of course there is the additional issue of Idris Jusoh behaving with ‘apparent cockiness’, acting as though he was the sultan, making decisions unilaterally without consulting the royal household.

Well … of course, given the Sultan concerns, HRH has the right to inform the winning political party, BN-UMNO, or even the PM of his dissatisfaction with Idris Jusoh as the State’s MB.

But what concerns me as a citizen of this nation, which is a constitutional monarchy with a Westminster parliamentary system, has been the Malaysiakini report that the palace (meaning the Sultan) has summoned the state representatives to consider
the palace’s preferred candidate, and to seek their support for the Sultan’s man, believed to be Ahmad Said, the Kemaman Umno division chief.

I hope those UMNO jokers know their constitutional law and would politely decline HRH suggestion. It may well be that with Idris Jusoh as a non-starter, the Sultan’s man may eventually be selected to be the next MB, but that is not the point.

The point is what Prof Shad has advised: While a State ruler has the constitutional right to approve the appointment of the MB, he should NOT be involved in politics and do NOT have absolute discretion in making his choice (in other words, he cannot demand that his preferred candidate be the MB). HRH should also not allow personal feelings to colour his judgments.

Most important of all, he should consult the PM as well. I reckon some royalties might have sensed a weak PM in his current political setback and are clawing back some of their lost pre-Merdeka prerogatives.

Through 'divide and conquer'?

I consider the Sultan's assertive action, in selecting his own preferred candidate for the MB's post, is constitutionally dangerous for Malaysian citizens, regardless of our ethnicity, religion or political affiliations; we can't afford to allow royalty to interfere directly with such political preserves; it's like usurping the people's democratic rights.

I like to see some bipartisan response especially from both PAS' Nik Aziz and Anwar Ibrahim, but alas, with a de facto PKR leader in an (childish by Western standards) acrimonious relationship with the BN, in particular UMNO, selfish partisanship may rule the day. Lim Kit Siang as a non Malay should preferably stay clear of this very sensitive issue, lest it worsens in the current critical period.

But it's likely that, apart from PAS and PKR partisan stand, greed among some of the State's UMNO MPs ('divide & conquer') compounded by the traditional Malay blind obedience a la Hang Tuah to HRH, may see the constitutionally undesired come about. It'll then be a humongous loss to Malaysian democracy.


  1. Kay Tee: That is an intellectual exercise. However, when you look at the end result, surely it is NOT a humongous loss to Malaysian democracy when one of the perpetrators of the violence and heavy-handed actions are removed!

    And was it not one of the BERSIH objectives to seek royal redress in stemming the rot of democracy and unfair elections?

    To put the question in another light, what the heck do you mean when you wrote "usurping the people's democratic rights", when the Sultan is removing one of the rascals that is in with much evidence, has usurped the people's democratic rights?

    This law-to-the-letter exercise is interesting, but it takes on the wrong tone. Should it not be tempered by the well being of the people on the whole?

  2. I knew you people are hypocrite, only support the Sultan/Agong when it is convenient for you.

    Opposition should have stayed oposition. BN would have managed things better.

  3. How about in Perlis ? The Raja has called a different chap (also UMNO) to be MB, instead of Shahidan. Shahidan has the support of PM, but the majority of the UMNO assemblymen in Perlis support the other chap. So, in this case, is the Raja right in calling the man who has the apparent support of the majority of the Assemblymen ?

  4. the importance of maintaining the constitutional struycture is far more important than the rejected asshole

    just remember who rules a southern state - you don't want him to think he can act outside the constitution and law.

    anon of 9:07 pm, what has this got to do with 'supporting the Agong/Sultan' or not supporting them? this is about the Constitution

  5. As usual, many people again jump into conclusion of, "if you don't support me, then you must be against me".

    Few people want to assess the whole scenario like KTemoc about "gray area".

    No, I don't blame this people, because in the pass, Malaysian don't have much chances to practice democracy : debates with a sensible brain. Many people still used to the old day "close door tradeoff" mindset.

  6. Our Constitution has been changed so many times that it's barely reflects its original intent and aspirations. The Constitution is being used by BN/AMNO whenever it's convenient to get what they want. What is important of having a Constitution is to have a system of principles to govern the nation not serves as a checkbook for BN Elites to do whatever they want. The very same Constitution which BN changed to curb the powers of the royalties now shifted to BN's MB. So tell me when was the last time BN's MB really serves the people besides using coppers and enforcers to curb dissent. BN MBs might not be from that particualr state but the ones that got hurt are Sultan Mirzan's rakyat. For me, the royalty does have a valid interest here.

    The issue here is not about the constitution, it's an issue of Dollah putting A$$holes as State MBs and if Sultan Mirzan acted with mutual interest of its people, I say why not?

  7. I think AAB should consult TDM on how to teach the royals a lesson. Look how TDM deal with the Gomez case.

  8. well, anon of 4:42 am - we needn't teach anyone any lesson - what we need is to adhere to the due constitutional process, and not let anyone hijack it.

    mob matey, I don't think it's wise to disregard the constitution just to bash or frustrate AAB, and to support royalty in disregarding the contitutional post election process because the palace doesn't want the UMNO designated MB on grounds of instigating police brutalities. The political party has to be told to resubmit another name but the palace cannot propose a name.

    We mustn't miss seeing the woods because of the trees. The Constitution is our only reliable hope, not some/anyone. Sultans, MBs, PMs, Opp leaders come and go but the Constitution remains. If we don't respect its inviolable supremacy and accept/condone bypassing its principles, then how can we condemn the BN. We become like them.

    I don't believe in any political messiah - politician or royalty, secular or religious - only the Constitution guarantees our votes (and other rights), and our votes are our voice. Haven't we just 'spoken' loud and clear?

    Yes, UMNO has changed the Constitution at its whims and fancies but that's because we had allowed the BN 2/3 majority. It also uses its contitutional rights, yes, for questionable and in some cases abhorrent intentions. But nonetheless it was constitutional.

    UMNO-BN has also ignored some of our rights which we measure against what the Constitution enshrines for us. Hopefully we can bring those violaters to justice eventually, using constitutional processes.

    We have to play the game of Westminster parliamentary democracy game by the rules, and the rules lie in the Constiutution. That UMNO has ignored those rules from time to time doesn't mean we should too. The recent election demonstrates the Constitution has worked for us. Let us uphold it.

  9. The philosophers sit on their high seats and proselytize. It's the generals that gets things done.

    History does not care about the vanquished. It is written for and by the victorious.

    So what I know is this: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.