Monday, May 05, 2008

Royalty going too far?

Those ardent monarchists would by now be fairly pissed off with Karpal Singh for what he had said regarding the Perak Sultan’s humiliation of the State’s MB.

As reported by Malaysiakini, Karpal didn’t spare HRH when he declared that
Sultan Perak acted unconstitutionally in ordering the new state government to reinstate Jamry Sury as Perak Religious Department director.

Earlier Perak MB Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin had dismissed Jamry Sury from that post by transferring him back to the State Secretariat.

Karpal said that it has been within the rights of a state government to transfer Jamry for the reason the latter was a state government servant.

Of late, probably sensing their opportunity to regain their old powers lost under Dr M, because they had deemed a politically wounded AAB as weak, the royalty have been clawing back what they believe to be lost royal prerogatives.

In some cases like in Penang and the current Perak issue, it would seem they interfered for no other reason than to flex their muscles and keep the politicians on the back foot.

The royalty have also been in large part encouraged by the general public’s approval, prior to the general election, of their assuming a greater and more direct role in politics.
There is one particular blog which has been promoting them beyond their constitutional role.

I did warned that the royalty aren't silver bullets for the nation's political problems. In a number of cases, the royalty themselves have been the problems.

I have also warned that if the royalty want to get themselves involved in politics, they must be prepared to accept criticisms as if they are politicians (whom indeed they have been acting as if they were/are). Well, Karpal has laid into them, starting ironically with the learned Sultan of Perak. Mind you, Karpal is no slouch when it comes to constitutional law.

But I have no doubt tomorrow some UMNO diehards will exploit the situation by accusing Karpal Singh of lèse majesté.

By interfering with State government’s democratic right to rule as the people’s representative, especially in Terengganu, Perlis, Perak and Penang, the royalty believe they can enjoy immunity yet dabble unconstitutionally with politics (when they haven't been elected - and they should well remember this fact!).

The days of Sultan Mansur Shah are over so these royalty should remember not to interfere with the nation's democratic process.

They are of course welcome to participate as politicians but they do so like Tengku Abdul Rahman or Tengku Razaleigh, as ordinary citizens without the privilege of royal immunity from all the laws of the country.

(1) The dangers of royal political activism
(2) Rulers no 'Silver Bullet'
(3) Dangerous euphoria over 'political' royalty

(4) Kelantan Crown Prince 'slapped' non-Malays in face!


  1. KT wrote: But I have no doubt tomorrow some UMNO diehards will exploit the situation by accusing Karpal Singh of lèse majesté.

    You may well be prescient there! ;-) It's more than likely that some snivelling shitheads won't allow this opportunity to slip by without exploiting it for some political mileage. Ha ha ha.

  2. Our system needs a revamp and the quicker the better. At the moment, as far as Islam is concerned, it comes under the purview, including the appointment of officials to head the religious department. This can only work fine if:
    1. the man who is heading the department comes from the same party as the state government; or
    2. the man may be from another party but is prepared to work together with the new party running the state.

    But the current situation is that according to the MB, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, Jamry Sury, refuses to toe the line, reason being both the former and the latter are from two different political parties. If this was a corporate concern, Jamry Sury has committed insubordination and therefore deserves to be reliefed of his duties by being terminated or transferred. But then he is the Director of the Perak Religious Department and therefore the Palace has no choice but to step in and directed the MB to reinstate Jamry. This is where the complication comes in. With such a directive, the Palace has created a govt within the govt. Jamry doesn't want to report to the MB because he is a BN guy and the MB a PR guy. So is Jamry's reporting line direct to the Palace? Government policies need to be implemented and what if Jamry refuses to carry them out. Who reprimands him, the MB or the Sultan. If the Sultan is seen involved frequently in Jamry's misdemeanour, isn't the Sultan putting him on a collision course with the politicians by getting involved with politics which by right he shouldn't but should remain apolitical? Has a precedent been set with Jamry's reinstatement?

  3. Sorry, the first line should read:

    Our system needs a revamp and the quicker the better. At the moment, as far as Islam is concerned, it comes under the purview of the state Sultan, including the appointment of officials to head the religious department.

  4. KTemoc, If the Sultan intervened in a matter related to the civil (secular) administration, I would agree with Karpal Singh, but not in this case.

    Please read the Constitution of Malaysia.

    The Sultan is the Head of the Islam in the respective state, and on matters pertaining to the administration of Islam and Malay customary laws, the ruler acts on the advice of the Menteri Besar.
    The key issue here is the Menteri Besar did NOT go to the Sultan on the 24-hour transfer of the JAIP director.

    The correct constitutional form would be for the MB to go before the Sultan, lay down the facts and make it clear the guy is sabotaging the state Islamic administration. The Sultan is REQUIRED to act on the advice of the MB.

    Hey, I'm a PR supporter, but politicising the issue either way, just as the UMNO dogs are doing now against DAP Perak Senior Exco Ngeh , is irrelevant.

  5. Now it looks TDM is having the last laugh!

  6. true kittykat46.

  7. The Malay royalties have not played any meaningful role in Malay history, past and present. If we look back in history, there was never a time the Malay sultans was a player in regional economy or politics. And there was never a strong states leader (except Abu Bakar of Johor of modern period). This is in total contrast with Javanese kings (or Thai kings). They were actually having empires but none of the Malay kings did. Melaka was a small coastal settlement of life span of about 100 years. The school text book of describing it as empire is just myths. The heart of Melaka is its economic activity and was controlled by the Javanese and Tamil traders. They manage the port and the Sultans were only rent seekers.

    In modern period, they Sultans never actually had any control of the rakyat. Even the rakyat (the Malays, in this case) never had the Rajas in their heart the same way the Britons would have their feelings towards their royalty. The reason is the Malay Raja’s never had any contact with commoners nor played any meaningful role in their life. Even in moments when their leadership was needed, for instance, at the peak of nationalism in Asia and Africa, none came forward to liberalise the people against the English or Japanese. They were happy to be rent seekers from the former. Much later, in mid 50’s a handful showed interest but not in any revolutionary ways. Outstanding among them was Dato Onn Jaafar. But when compared to world class leaders, he is pale in comparison. Just look around at our neighbours, and the role played by their royalties- Thailand, Indonesia, Burma etc.

    Time for the history to be re written. Earlier, nation building project ala UMNO have distorted everything for the sake of Malay supremacy. One of it is the creation of the myth Malay royalty as central to Malay life.