Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bismarck: The king reigns but does not govern

Der Konig herrscht aber regiert nicht

(The king reigns but does not govern)

- Karl Otto von Schonhausen Bismarck

On Friday Malaysiakini published Raja Nazrin: Rulers will not act on wrong advice.

Instead of rejoicing that we may be getting some so-called royal ‘check & balance’, au contraire I was filled with dread. I have not been impressed in the least by HRH's speech.

The democracy of Malaysia, warts and all, already has a system of ‘check & balance’, which admittedly didn’t work too well until recently, but then, when it didn’t work well, where were the royalty?

Why then is our democratic system of the tripartite ‘check & balance’ (executive, legislative and judiciary) beginning to awake from its Rip-Van-Winkle-an slumber?

Maybe AAB has loosened the shackles, maybe Anwar Ibrahim has provided the leadership, maybe the people have been sick of the arrogance of unfettered racism and the rampant exploitation of politics for reasons of individual avarice, and thus are more prepared to exert their voice, etc?

Whoever, whichever, whatever, our political reawakening and enjoyment of a more liberal political environment have been attained without any help from royalty! Not an iota! None whatsoever!

They were deafeningly silent when they should have spoken out, but now, like us they too are flexing their own Mahathirised-atrophied muscles in the changed socio-political environment, and reinventing their role in and relevance to society, to enhance their personal status and claw back their stripped down power.

Prior to the March election I believe the rakyat had actually lost confidence in the power of their own voices and votes (not daring to dream of the political tsunami to come), instead resorting in desperation to appeaqls and votive offerings to both God and any local messiah for political salvation.

Some saw the royalty as our political saviour, and went about promoting and egging the rulers to intrude into the political world to ‘rescue’ the people from Darth Vader. Alas, we should have been familiar with the story of Darth Vader, shouldn’t we?

Those royals were even considered as the ‘silver bullets’ to kill the UMNO werewolf.

Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) had been one of those ardent promoters of royal political interventionism. I wasn’t all that surprised that RPK had done so, he being a member of a royal family. In his writing, we read frequently of his (coincidental of course) slipping into exaltations of his granddad being Tun Raja (Sir) Uda, and boasting of his cousin the Sultan and his kinship with this and that royal house.

But where were the royalty when we needed them?

Some years ago the Perak Mufti had nearly caused an ugly incident of seditious proportion? Now that was a State religious issue, unlike this year's sacking of an insubordinate Director of JAIP by the Perak MB. So .....?

The general public in desperately clamouring for a political messiah had indicated their approval, prior to the general election, of royalty assuming a greater and more direct role in politics. I felt then the blog Malaysia-Today had promoted the royals beyond their constitutional role.

I have no doubt that those promotions of the royalty as potential political saviours had encouraged the royalty to begin exerting their powers, and in many incidents, in clumsy unconstitutional manner.

Their post election interferences by some Sultans were prime examples which regrettably many supported in glee, revelling in the embarrassment of an UMNO PM without realizing the more constitutionally-dangerous significance of those royal manoeuvres. I hate to use cliché but those silly sycophantic supporters couldn’t see the bigger picture.

In The dangers of royal political activism I wrote:

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.

Another lamentable example had been the Perak Sultan's undermining of Perak MB Nizar’s authority by rescinding the latter’s sacking of the State religious director.

MB Nizar sacked the bloke because of his insubordination, his refusal to cooperate and work with the State elected government. How could a MB work with an insubordinate State civil servant, who incidentally has been a member of UMNO Parit Buntar, and no doubt been UMNO appointed and obviously UMNO-affiliated?

Nizar said: “Bagaimanapun kerajaan negeri terpaksa mempertahankan hak dan dasar yang diperjuangkan sepertimana yang disuarakan melalui manifesto Pakatan Rakyat pada pilihan raya lepas. Sikap tidak menghormati pendirian kerajaan oleh kakitangan awam sememangnya satu sikap yang tidak profesional, sedangkan semuanya telah termaktub dan ditentukan oleh Allah SWT.”

Publicly chopping the MB’s authority off at the knees, in a show of unnecessary but raw royal power play, the Prince (acting on behalf of the Sultan) justified his action on the fact that the Sultan as the religious head of the State had the royal prerogative on State religious matter.

That's true but unfortunately the sacking didn’t have anything to do with any religious issues or policies but rather a case of a civil servant demonstrating sheer insubordination to the MB by refusing to implement the State government’s directive.

Though the word ‘sacking’ had been used, in fact the MB had merely returned the civil servant to the State Secretariat, from where he had been on loan to run the State religious department.

But regardless of whether it was a case of insubordination by a civil servant or a MB committing a faux pas with a State religious issue, was there really such a need for HRH to publicly humiliate the new MB and undermine his authority as the State’s CEO? Surely a quiet royal word to Nizar and the MB would have been right royally apologetic (even if he wasn’t incorrect).

In Supremacy of the people's voice in democracy I wrote:

Karpal Singh had been absolutely correct for speaking out against royal interference with politics and political decisions and management. Even though the man was the director of a State religious department, his sacking was not related to religious matters but rather his political behaviour as a State public servant - certainly that would then be within the powers and right of the MB to dismiss him.

The MB and his exco has been elected by the rakyat and in a democratic constitutional monarchy, the voice of the people (expressed through their elected representatives) is supreme.

There were the usual politically motvated calls, no doubt from BN, to charge Karpal with lèse majesty.

But any royalty who brings him/herself incorrectly down into the political arena must be prepared to accept political criticism. Lawful political dissent and criticisms are the supreme right of the rakyat.

The royal person who wants to play politics shouldn’t expect to enjoy royal immunity from the laws (including a legal suit) or claim that those who criticise him/her have been guilty of lèse majesty, treason or affronting his/her royal person.

Yes, it was only the Lion of Gelugor who thundered against the royal interference, against their unconstitutional meddling in State politics. As mentioned, Karpal Singh was threatened for lèse majesty by the usual suspects. UMNO, already smarting after the March election, saw a malicious opportunity to attack Karpal and vicariously the DAP. Led by AAB, UMNO leaders demanded of the AG to charge Karpal Singh for sedition.

But the saddest part was that Karpal was alone in his courageous, constitutionally competent and correct chiding of improper royal interference in the state non-religious political management.

The normally verbose and bombastic Opposition Leader was strangely (perhaps not) silent, but more shamefully none of his DAP MP and (Perak) ADUN colleagues supported him. They must have been intimidated by sensitive issue of the position of the Sultan.

In the Malay world the Sultan holds a special place. If we remember the story of Hang Tuah and Jebat, Tuah was the quintessential loyal subject who remained loyal even to a tyrannical ruler, whilst Jebat the loyal friend of Tuah took up the cudgel of justice on behalf of a passive Tuah (passive to the Sultan’s unjust dictates) and became the notorious traitorous rebel, the wannabe Faisal bin Musa'id bin Abdul Aziz of the Malay world.

Mythical Jebat was deemed such a traitor that the first PM and ardent monarchist, Tunku Abdul Rahman, refused to have the Royal Malaysian Navy’s 2nd frigate named KD Jebat. He changed it to KD Rahmat.

I wrote 2 years ago in Hang Jebat lives again, but ...! (extracts follows):

Dr Azy Rahman has expounded in his article
Neo-feudalism of the cybernetic Malays on the influence of the legendary Hang Tuah on the Malay psyche. I posted that in Malays' neo-feudalism hypermodern inner construct - excuse me while I untie my tongue.

Dr Azly said: “The concept of a hero in Malay society is enshrined in Hang Tuah, the most popular symbol of the warrior-class in Malay history; the good ‘polyglot’, the magical-mystical Malay hero who pledged blind loyalty to the Sultan. The image of the warrior-blind loyalist is well-inscribed into the literature and consciousness of the Malays”.

Note the word ‘blind loyalty’ and its derivative ‘blind loyalist’.

Dr Azly continued: “Today, enshrined, is the modern-day doctrine of allegiance to the ruler in the form of the Rukunegara or the ‘Principles of the Nationhood’. The myth of Hang Tuah, arguably, together with his friends Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, and Hang Lekiu has been inscribed into the consciousness of the Malays and forms the foundation of the master-slave narrative”.

Well, yesterday, Dr Mahathir has in his lecture
A dialogue with Tun Dr Mahathir organised by Malaysia-Today blog, stated the same thing. He said:

“Let me quote the story of Hang Tuah: Whenever the King gives an order, Hang Tuah and his brethrens would say, ‘mana titah, patih junjung’ (whatever you command, I shall obey) ….. That is why Hang Tuah killed his friends. He was too loyal …”

What Dr Mahathir meant of course was the ‘blind’ loyalty of Hang Tuah, who on the orders of the Sultan killed his best friend, Jebat. The story of Hang Tuah has not only been controversial but deeply disturbing because many readers, including myself, wondered how Tuah could kill Jebat, the very man who had defended him against a tyrant. And to make matters worse, Tuah did so on the orders of the tyrant.

But to an earlier generation of Malays - or according to Dr Azly, they had been brainwashed to believe - Tuah had been the epitome of that highly valued Malay characteristic, unimpeachable loyalty, whereas Jebat was the exact opposite, the treacherous rebel.

Tuah killed on the orders of his Sultan, no questions asked. Jebat, on the other hand, was pissed off with a tyrant who wanted to kill a loyal subject, but regicide, particularly of one's own, was a no-no in Malay culture. Therefore Jebat was a traitor and to be despised.

It first took Malaysia’s foremost Malay intellectual Kassim Ahmad to smash the conservative mould of thinking in his university thesis “Perwatakan Hikayat Hang Tuah” (the characters in the story of Hang Tuah).

As Dr Bakri Musa, a Malaysian who's a regular columnist in Malaysiakini and one of my favourite writers, said:

“Kassim frontally challenged the orthodox Malay thinking on authority, and royalty in particular. According to Kassim, the real hero is not Hang Tuah, rather the hitherto presumed renegade, Hang Jebat. To Kassim, Tuah is the typical palace sycophant who willingly sells his body and soul to the sultan, a loyalty conveniently reinforced by whatever largesse the sultan could bestow.”

“Jebat is the rugged individualist, not awed by those who wield power. His loyalty is to institutions, not individuals. To Kassim, Jebat is the true hero, not the prodigal son, Tuah.”

“It is a conflict of commitment to principles and institutions represented by Jebat, versus personal loyalty as presented by Tuah. It is this universal conflict, concretized in the setting of a traditional feudal society, which makes Hikayat Hang Tuah such a powerful and enduring piece of literature.”

And it was during Dr Mahathir’s PM-ship that Jebat was properly ‘rehabilitated’ as a heroic Malay warrior, where the RMN finally named a ship after the mythical admiral.

I heard also (please confirm if anyone knows, because I haven’t seen what was told to me) that in UMNO’s headquarters, the biggest room, the place of honour, is named after Jebat whilst the smallest room was allocated to the memory of Tuah.

If true, surely all these must have alarmed the Malay royalty. Furthermore, the growing republican movement around the world, manifested in dramatic fashion in Nepal, the last bastion of the Hindu God-King, must have added to their concerns.

So the recent royal ‘power surges’, in the face of a weak PM and the unjustified adulation of the Brigade of Lost Hopes, have been Ops Claw-back by the Malaysian royalty.

And guess what happened after MB Nizar succumbed to such traditional Malay royal psy-war and reinstated an insubordinate State civil servant?

The Prince Regent in a subsequent speech (3 months later in late July) attempted to change (by stealth) his justification for his royal interference from that of religious matters to administrative fairness.

I again blogged on that in Miscellanous - from reformasi to royalty based on a Star Online news article titled
Rulers have special roles where I stated:

Highly admired Regent of Perak, once (prior to the March 08 election) touted as the ‘silver bullet’ to kill off the BN werewolf, told us yesterday that Malay Rulers are not decorative symbolic monuments who merely carry out ceremonial duties. Rather, they have roles in society, which means their views should not be taken lightly.

He then gave several examples of the royal righteous roles, one of which caught my eye.

HRH said of Nizar, the new MB, who sacked the state religious director without getting the Ruler's assent first.

HRH justified (or in kaytee’s reckoning, attempted to do so) his humiliation of Nizar, stating: “That is why the state government was asked to withdraw it!” because, according to his HRH, Nizar contradicted the principle of basic justice as the director had not done any wrong and was not given an opportunity to defend himself.

If you read my
Supremacy of the people's voice in democracy I brought out HRH’s initial reason for rebuking and forcing Nizar to back down, on the grounds that the dismissed chap was a director of a State religious department, and the Sultan, as the State’s head of Islam, has his royal prerogative on all matters of State religion, including deciding who should be sacked or not sacked involving State religious issues.

And on those (religious rights) grounds, he revoked the MB’s decision in the dismissal.


[3 months later] HRH did not bring out the Sultan’s right as the head of Islam in revoking the MB’s decision to dismiss that insubordinate bloke.

That's right - that reason was totally absent! What HRH said was that MB Nizar contradicted the principle of basic justice as the director had not done any wrong and was not given an opportunity to defend himself.

So it has now been admitted by HRH that it was an administrative issue and not a religious one!

A case of basic (administrative) justice! And so, according to HRH, he had (on behalf of Papa) intervened to ensure there was basic justice.

What about the unacceptable issue of insubordination to the MB? And the subsequent public humiliation of a MB? Was there basic justice for MB Nizar?

Quite frankly, by raising the case again and changing HRH’s reason for revoking the MB’s administrative decision, the Regent has made his justification worse. [...]

I saw the whole series of royal interferences (Perlis, Terengganu, and Perak) as opportunities for flexing of their once-absolute-but-neutralised royal muscles after Dr M left the stage.

The royal humiliation of MB Nizar left me with a sour taste in my mouth. Silver bullet?

And since when has royalty assume the role of an administrative court in deciding State management fairness?

I had warned time and time again that the royalty had been the problem rather than the solution, and true to my words, the Kelantan Prince confirmed that by slapping the faces of his father’s non-Malay subjects, and his hurtful warning had recently been confirmed by the recent Rulers Conference, namely, the so-called ’social contract’ …

… which Royal Prof Ungku Aziz had already described as a non-existent ‘fantasy’ by some politicians. Well, the ’social contract’ has now been given real life by their royal/political imprimatur.

While the Sultans have a place under the Malaysian Constitution, they should be careful not to step down from their royal pedestal onto the grubby world of politics where they then draw justified criticisms unto their political (and not royal) persons.

And may I leave you with a statement by Ben Jonson in Explorata: Illiteratus Princeps ..

They say Princes learn no art truly, but the art of horsemanship. The reason is, the brave beast is no flatterer. He will throw a Prince as soon as his groom.


  1. Ktemoc is a Chinese racist who should be sent back to Fujian.

  2. The Royalty has a role to play in the keeping of the peace and the development of this country....However if they decide to choose to gaji buta and sit like ornaments.....then let's just go Singapore way and put it to a referendum if we should be a these economic times....the country may be better off without them.

  3. I agree 110% with Ktemoc-a fantastic article. All those on the opposition table who have been bleating for royal intervention better be careful of what they wish for.

    These people are unelected representatives. Their role should be ceremonial. I've never understood RPK's love for royal intervention as it requires the will of the unelected to act as they see fit.

    That said, we don't live in a time vacuum-the royal houses are there to stay due to historical and cultural reasons. No republic for us I'm afraid. We cannot re-write history, but the one time of 2 times I supported Mahathir (2nd being the financial crisis response) was wehn he tried to reigned in the powers of the sultan-sure it was for all the wrong reasons, but it's not like the royalty have been a shining ebacon of light and reason have they now?

    The Prince of Perak has been the most dissapointing of the lot-he seems to be the type of royalty teh rakyat would love to have, but his illusions of grandeur are frightening indeed, but when one needs not answer to the rakyat, it is easy to go overboard no?

  4. if i remember hikayat tuah correctly, tuah could not win jebat coz jebat held a special kris. in order to possess that kris, tuah "deceived" jebat to handover the kris, and when jebat did that, tuah stabbed jebat to death ......

    if you observed the story carefully, it means it's ok to have end justifies the means, as long as you served the one you revered..... no wonder you'd have bukit bendera incident and cerpen ybj in utusan, it's ok and acceptable as long it serves its objective derailing oppos ambition.

    frederick king of prussia mentioned "A king is the first servant and first magistrate of the state".

  5. The integrity or otherwise of the various state royal houses is a separate issue from their role, rights and privileges as provided by the Constitution and the country's history.

    On the first issue, yes, there is good reason to be wary of them from some of their past record.

    On their legal role, please go back and read the relevant sections of the Constitution of Malaysia, in detail, line by line. Also read the history of pre-independence Malaysia, especially the report of the Reid Commission, which helped draft the Constitution.

    It will be pretty obvious that the constitution did not intend the sultans to be just ceremonial figureheads.

    My interpretation of it - the intention was for Malaysia to be a Constitutional Monarchy with an active advice and consent role for the royalty.

    A lot of people don't realise that Britain's Queen Elizabeth II plays an active advice and consent role regularly with the PM, though she does it in such a low key and proper manner, the British public doesn't even notice it. She has the right to ask for briefings on confidential and secret government deliberations, and past PMs have hinted the discussions can get very intense.

    The Queen doesn't take political sides, but has every right to give input to the PM "for the public good".

    And the British Monarch retains very significant reserve powers, which have not and are not expected to be exercised unless in dire emergencies.

  6. This royal guys should only regin and not GOVERN US.Its best we leave them alone with their expensive toys and pay them their usual salary from the taxpayers.Leave them on cold storage like what TDM did and it works wonder.
    With a weakling bodoh pm they are being a bit bolder and entering the domain to flex their muscles.
    Sorry ! the people dont have to depend on them like a silver bullet as kt puts it.It may backfire on us .
    That's a fact of malaysian politics.The people thought too highly on them but look what did they really do?
    Instead it back fired on us with their superficial lecturing on not to question their God given rights and the social contract and malay rights.
    Wonder why the malay race is so afraid of who?

  7. Observer made some good comments. He is right in many respects re the role of a ruler in a democracy like Malaysia which is a constitutional monarchy. The royalty certainly has a consent role but no (this is where I disagree), not one which dispenses advice actively. And on the former it would be an unusual case where the ruler (even of Britain or any European democracy) refuses to give his/her consent to a bill or legislation that has been framed under the supreme authority of the people’s will.

    In fact, the Malaysian Constitution allows the government to ignore the absence of royal consent if the ruler won’t give it. Dr M had changed the Constitution to enable this bypass during his term as PM.

    In European constitutional monarchy, the people are considered as the supreme authority while the ruler serves the people. Hardly the sort of egalitarian attitude that we would find in our rulers.

    Queen Elizabeth II does not intervene in a democratic process as that’s the role of Parliament (ruling and opposition parties) which represents the collective will of the British people. Yes, she has a consent role and does discusses matter regularly with the PM. Observer is right in saying she does it in a low key and proper manner, but in reality that’s the limit of her ability to intervene.

    Yes, she has the right to ask for briefings on confidential and secret government deliberations, but usually such briefings are automatically delivered on schedule or in an emergency. Whether her discussions with past PMs were very intense won’t hide the fact that she would be most daring to meddle around with a bill or legislation passed by Parliament.

    As Observer said, the British Monarch retains reserve powers, which have not and are not expected to be exercised unless in dire emergencies … and may I just add on to those very good comments, namely, “… to be exercised only if necessary in dire emergencies or in a constitutional crisis.”

    Her ability to exercise her reserve power is fraught with danger and thus very rarely used. One terrible example was when her representative the GG of Australian John Kerr exercised such powers during the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, when the Supply Bill was blocked by the opposition Liberal Party which formed a majority in the Senate. Without the Bill being passed, there was no money to run even the day to day government business.

    So John Kerr acting on what has since been insinuated as biased advice from someone (can’t write down here as I could be sued) and also from an apprehension about his own position (ironically he was recommended by the Labour Party to be GG), sacked Gough Whitlam, the democratically elected PM.

    While he had the powers to do so, his exercise of the reserve powers caused such a public uproar by the perception of his ‘biased misuse or abuse’ of the Queen’s powers which led to his self exile from Australia when he realized he had become the most hated man Downunder. He died in exile without ever setting foot in Australia again after he left her shores. He was a completely broken man. His action also gave rise to republican thoughts in Australia.

    Whenever a monarch or his/her representative uses the reserve powers, it will invariably split the nation (as it did Australia) as the neutrality of the ruler becomes questionable. It has been said that monarchs are reluctant to use such reserve powers to avoid political controversy for reasons of self-preservation.

    There has been no constitutional crisis thus far in our nation, though Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters had tried to posit that with a ridiculous 82 PR MPs versus the BN’s 140. But such has been the hatred for the BN (among PR supporters) that many actually believed that nonsensical bullshit and implore the Agong to act.

    How in the world could HM do that? On what non-man man lai basis?

    Besides, the deplorable example of the humiliation of Perak’s MB has convince me and some friends (even some in PKR) that the rulers shouldn’t be encouraged to be politically interventionist. Where was the justification for that most lamentable of misuse of his (traditional) authority?

  8. a very thought provoking article, well done KTemoc :-)

    to Ketuanan Rakyat!

  9. As for Anwar Ibrahim, my comment is...

    I'm not a member or supporter of PKR or any political party. I support a serious change in the way this country is run.

    If BN itself can make the necessary changes, I can live with that. If BN cannot or will not change, then it may be time to end BN's 1/2 century as the ruling party.

    But the right occasion to do it is the next General Election. NOT by MPs changing their allegiance halfway.

  10. The late P.Ramlee was posthumously bestowed with a Tan Sri award and therefore held in very high esteem by all Malaysians....and also therefore his movies are well researched and cannot be ridiculed.

    If Malaysians wish to worship members of these subjects posted by Ktemoc in all their finery, please go ahead but as for me, I prefer to watch Tan Sri P.Ramlee's movies because I can then know precisely who these heralded members descended from. You'll be surprised, very surprised indeed. You cannot change Malaysian History.

  11. This has been a very illuminating discussion, and I wish I had more time to digest all this, but before the thread goes stale I thought I would fire off one thought...

    Around the time of the state government handoffs (i.e. March/April of this year), there was the problem to do with shredding/"loss" of state governments with the apparent intention of giving the incoming governments a headache. In a broader sense, this is not a uniquely Malaysian phenomenon: I recall some time back there was a problem with Dick Chaney destroying some state documents as well, although the specifics aren't on the top of my head right now... anyone?

    Such things are so shameful. Even if some things need to remain under wraps for a few decades, everything should be declassified eventually. If transcripts of Henry Kissinger's conversations can come out decades later, it's pathetic that the outgoing Penang/Selangor governments couldn't hand over some basic administrative paperwork.

    Concurrently, this was also around the time that the specter of royal interventionism reared it's ugly head.

    I don't think we need to resort to Republicanism or even a merely symbolic Sultanate (though I will admit, my worldview is definitely such that I won't weep for those guys if they are made to find regular jobs). But it did occur to me that the Sultanate can serve as custodians of the history of the land, such that they can be officially the "keeper" of all the state's records. If implemented properly this could facilitate orderly handover of state documents between governments, and also ensure that no important secrets are lost between the cracks if any government hangs around long enough to clean up some unfortunate things in the record that they would rather never became public to tarnish whomever's legacy.

    Their powers should certainly be regulated, such that the Sultanate cannot declassify things at whim to embarrass whomever they like, but I think it would be doable. Furthermore, it would give them a tangible function beyond Islamic affairs... in other words, something non-Muslims can easily relate to.

  12. int, I am not sure royalty should play a record-keeping role, which belongs to another supposedly neutral body, the Civil Srrvice.

    The problem of nefarious shredding of records by outgoing governments reflects badly on our Federal and State civil services, which have not been neutral in the finest tradition of the archtypical Sir Humphrey. Jamry Sury has been such an example.

    There has been the unfortunate perception by the Civil Service that UMNO, or splinter groups of UMNO like PAS and (the former UMNO component of) PKR, may only be the legitimate government, whatever the election outcome had been.

    The perception has been heavily influenced by history, patronage and ethnocentric leanings.

    Malaysian royalty has a constitutional role of being the non-political symbol of unity, but to achieve that, they should in the first place be neutral (non-political), above the fray (stop meddling or face criticism) and inclusive (shouldn't promote the ethnocentric ideology of 'social contract' or 'ketuanan Melayu').

    If Malaysian royalty chooses to support divisive concepts such as 'social contract' and 'ketuanan Melayu' then they become only Malay (and not Malaysian) royalty.

  13. "If Malaysian royalty chooses to support divisive concepts such as 'social contract' and 'ketuanan Melayu' then they become only Malay (and not Malaysian) royalty."

    IMHO Malay royalty is what they are because the scope of their powers is heavily tilted in that direction. If we do not redefine the scope of their powers such that they are perceived to have a more balanced national role, then as an institution, the Sultanate will be more of a hindrance to the cause of national unity, rather than an aid to it. You will get your occasional outliers which give some people high hopes, but the trend is not inspiring.

    On the matter of record keeping, you're right that ideally it should be the jurisdiction of civil servants with enough pride to transcend political masters, but you're also right that there are firmly entrenched cultural problems that remove that expected behavior. At least that's been the case with Barisan governments, who knows, maybe the Pakatan governments will usher in a different culture. Time will tell.

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