PETALING JAYA: Some RM257 million was spent for the upkeep and personal expenditure of Sultan Muhammad V in the 16 months since he became the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, according to a member of the government’s top advisory council on institutional reforms.
Writing on his personal blog which he said does not represent the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) of which he is a member, A Kadir Jasin said the amount, averaging RM16 million a month, was spent on the Agong’s accommodation, residence, personal items, aircraft, transportation, clothing, gifts and souvenirs, overseas visits and salaries of palace staff, among others.
Kadir said the amount spent for the upkeep of the monarch showed that the Malay Rulers needed no reassurance that their position was secure.
This followed remarks reportedly made by prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim that his recent audiences with several sultans were to reassure them of PH’s commitment to protecting the institution of the monarchy.
“I wouldn’t dare say that the Rulers are so insecure these days about their position that they need to be assured and comforted,” wrote Kadir, who once headed the previous government’s main media mouthpiece New Straits Times Press.
“On the contrary, I think the Rulers are as confident and assured as ever before. Why shouldn’t they be? They are guaranteed by the constitution, lavishly provided for, wealthy, and even Anwar kissed their hands!”
Soon after his release from jail last month, Anwar embarked on a series of meetings with the Malay Rulers. In a recent interview with PKR-linked think tank Invoke Malaysia, Anwar said his audiences were part of efforts to strengthen the new government’s ties with the rulers.
“After 60 years, this is the first time the Rulers have to deal with a different government,” he said.
But Kadir, referring to Anwar’s remarks explaining his audiences with sultans, said he appeared to be “behaving like a political commissar”.
“In the communist system, a political commissar is many times more powerful than a battalion of soldiers.”
Kadir said despite the removal of legal immunity in their personal capacity, rulers were still accorded respect, with a special court to hear alleged royal misdeeds.
“In conclusion, our constitutional monarchs have nothing to fear if they understand their special position and stick to their duties as spelt out by the constitution.
“The people expect them to be the embodiment of all things good and holy,” he added.