PETALING JAYA: Malay Rulers in the country despite being “only” constitutional monarchs still have the right to advise Prime Minister Najib Razak against undermining the democratic principles of the country, says former law minister Zaid Ibrahim.
In his latest blog posting, Zaid defended the visit Dr Mahathir Mohamad had with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in Alor Setar, saying the former premier did it because he cared for the “dignity and honour of the Malay Rulers.”
He argued that while Mahathir was responsible for amending the constitution in regard to the function of Malay Rulers, he did it for the benefit of the people and to safeguard the function of the government.
He was referring to the decision to remove the Malay Rulers’ immunity over their personal conduct and to allow for the approval of financial Bills if a Ruler refused to sign them but added, “None of this was motivated by an anti-royal sentiment.”
He explained that while the Malay Rulers were “constitutional monarchs”, who functioned within the framework of a constitutional form of government, the present government no longer operated as a constitutional one.
“These are the matters that Tun Dr Mahathir wants the Malay Rulers to understand.”
Zaid argued that while as “constitutional monarchs” the Malay Rulers did not have the power to sack the PM, they could still call Najib and “give their views on why he must not undermine the democratic principles Malaysia supposedly adheres to.”
“They can, for example, summon the Prime Minister and tell him that it would be better for the country if any declaration of Emergency also required their endorsement. There are many other useful things they can do if they want to,” Zaid said, while stating that he appreciated the choice to either remain silent or speak up was “not easy.”
He did caution however that choosing to remain silent because they were “only” constitutional monarchs or that politics was an area they could not venture into, would only serve to confirm “irrelevance” of the Malay Rulers.
“I would urge the Royal Highnesses not to take that attitude because they would not be respected for doing so. Many people would think they are just lifeless symbols living in grand palaces, too afraid to give their opinions on the state of the nation which they took an oath to defend and honour.”