KUALA LUMPUR: The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah, has urged the public to participate in upholding the rule of law and not leave it to jurists, the legal fraternity and civil society.
He said large segments of the adult and voting population have excused themselves from the responsibility on grounds that they lacked sufficient knowledge about the law.
“But the rule and the administration of justice are far too important to be left to a select few,” he said in his keynote address at the International Malaysia Law Conference here today.
Nazrin said a “whole-of-society” approach recognised the crucial roles played by all stakeholders, individually and collectively, through civil society organisations, academia and the media.
He said citizens needed to recognise that democracy without the strong rule of law was merely demagoguery by another name.
“Voters must understand that their responsibility to democracy and the rule of law does not end at the ballot box.” he said.
The ruler said voter education tended to focus on the holding of free and fair elections and little else.
He also said citizens must grasp that a robust rule of law meant that they could not pick and choose among judicial decisions, supporting only those which favoured them.
That was why, he said, the the “Rule of Law” (Kedaulatan Undang-Undang) was one of the five key tenets of the Rukun Negara.
“This point serves to highlight the great significance of the Malaysian Bar and also the enormous potential of events, such as today’s conference, which bring together so many finest legal minds, practitioners, experts and scholars to share knowledge on the rule of law,” he said.
He also said reforms in the rule of law must encompass the implementation of a separation of powers as completely and effectively as possible within the limits of the governing system.
Nazrin said other reforms must include judicial independence to check the executive and the legislature. He said Malaysia must take steps to accede and ratify international instruments and ensure closer national compliance.
He said the recent change in government had given fresh impetus to strengthen the rule of law, as legislation deemed restrictive of individual liberties and others were being reviewed.
“We look forward to all these important initiatives reaching full fruition. The people of Malaysia and the country deserve no less,” he added.