PETALING JAYA: PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has criticised disparaging remarks by veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin about the purported expenses incurred by the federal government for the upkeep of the Yang diPertuan Agong.
Speaking at a PKR event, Anwar said respect and decorum must be maintained when anyone expressed themselves. “We have worked very hard to get the Malay rulers to appreciate this new administration,” he said.
Anwar said he had met and would continue to meet the Malay rulers on his own volition to get rid of any perception that Pakatan Harapan was against the rulers or intended to ignore constitutional provisions on Malay rights, Bahasa Melayu and the position of Islam.
Anwar’s remarks were in response to an article in Kadir’s personal blog in which Kadir had brought up the cost of the upkeep of the Yang diPertuan Agong, and made pointed references to their special position.
The article came before Anwar, in a personal intervention, appeared to have broken an impasse over the dismissal of the attorney-general and the appointment of a successor.
On Monday evening, Anwar had an audience with the Yang diPertuan Agong, resulting in a 2.30am announcement by Istana Negara that the King had assented to Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali being removed, naming Tommy Thomas to replace him.
Anwar has made several visits to royal houses in the past two weeks to explain Pakatan Harapan’s new federal government. He said today that he had undergone an “arduous” process to reassure the Malay rulers about Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.
Referring to Kadir’s remarks, Anwar said: “To make disparaging remarks without giving the Rulers the opportunity to clarify – that’s not healthy, especially when you use your position, and are seen to be close to people in the government.”
Kadir had said that the Rulers should not have fears about their position. “They are guaranteed by the constitution, lavishly provided for, wealthy, and even Anwar kissed their hands!” he wrote, pointing out that about RM257 million had been spent for the upkeep and personal expenditure of Sultan Muhammad V in the 16 months since he became the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
He had also made a pointed remark about Special Courts, where royalty may be placed on trial, and said “our constitutional monarchs have nothing to fear if they understand their special position and stick to their duties as spelt out by the constitution”.
Kadir is known to be close to the prime minister’s adviser, Daim Zainuddin, and is a spokesman for the advisory Council of Eminent Persons, chaired by Daim. However, he wrote the blog article in his personal capacity.
Kadir was once chief editor of the New Straits Times Press in the 1980s and 1990s, during which time he had dealings with Anwar, who was deputy prime minister to Dr Mahathir and headed Umno’s powerful media committee.
Besides his remarks about the rulers, Kadir also accused Anwar of “behaving like a political commissar”, a reference to Soviet-era representatives of the political leadership in the military and government. “In the communist system, a political commissar is many times more powerful than a battalion of soldiers.”
Anwar did not respond to this remark but said Kadir had made “major factual errors” in some of his assertions and that “we should be mindful of that”.