Happy Birthday, DYMM Sultan Perak Darul Ridzuan


Comment:  I join Perakians and my fellow Malaysians in wishing DYMM Sultan Perak Darul Ridzuan Happy 81st Birthday and congratulate His Royal Highness for his most eloquent speech at the investiture ceremony in Kuala Kangsar last Sunday (April 19).

Sultan Azlan Shah spoke about to the role of monarchy in modern Malaysia. However, my deepest respect for our Malay Rulers—PKR champions “Kedaulatan Raja-Raja Melayu”– and pure common sense prevent me from adding my comments to what Param Cumaraswamy writes in his article (below), which I fully endorse.

I note with deep regret that Perak remains ungovernable; Najib who engineered the political coup must be fully accountable for the political impasse, not the political oppostion. No one should blame Pakatan Rakyat for the present mess in the tin state. 

The only practical solution is for His Royal Highness Sultan of Perak to dissolve the state assembly so that  fresh elections can be held as soon as practicable. Let the people of Perak to decide by way of free and fair elections which party, Pakatan Rakyat (of PKR, PAS and DAP) or UMNO-Barisan Nasional, should form the next government. Both sides must then respect the choice of the rakyat. 

I hope given His Royal Highness’ wide experience, wisdom and eloquence on matters relating our national constitution and the Rule of Law, Sultan Azlan Shah will see the merit of  dissolving the state assembly to pave the way for elections.

We ordinary Malaysians know that the Perak crisis bears the imprimatur of  Najib Tun Razak, our “One-Malaysia” Prime Minister, and his  UMNO-BN strategists and backers. We also know that the decision of the Federal Court in the Zambry versus Sivakumar case is unconstitutional (see NH Chan’s article posted earlier in the blog).  At the same time, UMNO-BN should also know that the recent by-election in Bukit Gantang is a referendum against Najib, in which Perakians gave Pakatan Rakyat (PAS)’s Dato Seri Ir. Mohamed Nizar Jamaluddin a strong mandate (by a larger majority) to represent in the 12 th Parliament.—Din Merican

http://www.malaysiakini.com
April 20, 2009

A new dimension of constitutional monarchy?
by Param Cumaraswamy*

Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah has expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms over comments and criticisms expressed by various quarters on the actions he took on Febraury 5 over the removal of Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the Perak Menteri Besar and the appointment of Zambry Abd Kadir in his place.

While Sultan Azlan Shah’s remarks are understandable, there is, however, one matter which is of concern. That being his exposition, as reported in the media, that “the role of the constitutional monarchy goes beyond what is stipulated in the constitution”. And also (of the Sultan saying) “that rulers have a far wider responsibility ensuring that the spirit of the constitution, the philosophy behind the written law and the interests of the country and the people are safeguarded at all times”.

With respect, this new dimension of constitutional monarchy may be seen as far reaching. We have in this country nine sultans under nine separate state constitutions and one king under the federal constitution. Again with respect, if these heads of states begin to interpret their powers, rights, discretions and privileges under their respective constitutions in accordance with the ‘spirit of’ and ‘philosophy’ behind the constitutional provisions and framework, what becomes of any certainty in the constitutions?

Again with respect, how could rationality, reasonableness and consistency of the decisions on interpretations be secured? In that event the independent judicial review of such decisions will be inevitable. The institution of the monarchy may fall under the purview of the courts.

In this regard Sultan Azlan Shah’s own words in the judgment of the Federal Court in 1979 when he was acting Chief Justice (Malaya) regarding Sri Lempah is noteworthy.

He said, inter alia:

“Every legal power must have legal limits otherwise there is dictatorship. In particular it is a stringent requirement that a discretion should be exercised for a proper purpose, and that it should not be exercised unreasonably.In other words, every discretion cannot be free from legal restraint; where it is wrongly exercised, it becomes the duty of the courts to intervene.”

*PARAM CUMARASWAMY is a former Malaysian Bar president (1986 – 1988). He also served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers by the UN Commission on Human Rights from 1994 to 2003.

22 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, DYMM Sultan Perak Darul Ridzuan

  1. “Every legal power must have legal limits otherwise there is dictatorship. In particular it is a stringent requirement that a discretion should be exercised for a proper purpose, and that it should not be exercised unreasonably.In other words, every discretion cannot be free from legal restraint; where it is wrongly exercised, it becomes the duty of the courts to intervene.”–Azlan Shah (1979)

    In other words, in layman’s term, “cakap tak serupa bikin”. Sembah derhaka Tuanku, rakyat jemu dengan kata-kata yang tidak di kotakan. Jangan selindung disebalik “kuasa” yang seadanya untuk memutarbelitkan fakta dan kenyataan.

    Rakyat Perak bukan jahil tentang undang-undang, malah mahu sistem kesultanan Perak yang diputarbelitkan oleh Tuanku dikembalikan kepada sistem asal . Adakah Raja Muda Perak sekarang ini layak menjadi Raja selepas Tuanku? Lihat sahaja di Negeri Sembilan…..

  2. Eiz, you have made an interesting comment with regard to the appointment of Sultan in Perak. As far as I know, the Perak constitution was amended to ensure that the age old tradition of the appointment of the Sultan by rotation will not be adopted. This ensures that Raja Nasrin succeeds his father, not Raja Jaafar or another member of Perak Royalty.

    Maybe New York Bean can comment.

  3. “The only practical solution is for His Royal Highness Sultan of Perak to dissolve the state assembly so that fresh elections can be held as soon as practicable. Let the people of Perak decide ..”

    This contrary to popular belief is not about the people of Perak.

    This is about the law governing constitutional procedure, about the state constitution and what is written down – not the spirit but the letter of the law.

    The constitutional monarch cannot on his own volition dissolve anything – certainly not the state assembly. He can agree to the chief of the executive branch known to us as the Mentri Besar to dissolve the assembly albeit using his own discretion; but the said Mentri Besar must first seek his royal audience, dressed in proper attire and acknowledging his royal presence with both hands touching his forehead, make his humble request or his ‘sembah derhaka’ if you will, plead with his Royal Highness to “do the right thing” as we folks say. His Royal Highness is of course free to decline the request.

    Now here comes the question. Why should the ruling Mentri Besar ask His Highness to dissolve the state assembly now that his party is in control??

  4. “That being his exposition … “the role of the constitutional monarchy goes beyond what is stipulated in the constitution” and “that rulers have a far wider responsibility ensuring that the spirit of the constitution …” Param

    Our royal-appointed federal court judges led by skirt chaser Zaki Tun Azmi interpret the law but who interprets the spirit of the law? Isn’t this another way of hoodwinking the simple common folks, filling up the void left by lacuna in the law, connecting the dots etc?

    We cannot even be sure what they are talking about. It might open the floodgates to lots of other spirits including those found hovering in the neighborhood pubs. Indeed federal court justices like Augustine Paul would find seating on the bench more pleasurable once he acquaints himself with the spirit of the kind he encounters at these pubs.

  5. Happy birthday to HRH the Sultan of Perak. Hope he may have more birthdays to follow. At 81 most will be father, grandfather or grand grand father. For this age most will also want to do good and be praised. I am sorry for our HRH the Sultan this days he is being sworn at and many unhappy words on his handling of the PERAK STATE GOVERNMENT. For the good of Perak may HRH do what is right by just resolving the assembly and let the people vote on which government they want. I am sure everyone should be happy and unless there are hidden agendas between HRH and Najib. If no why not.? There is no lost to HRH and more to gain, that is, the kind respect that he wanted.

  6. Mr Bean,

    Kind of off topic regading the legality of pre-dated resignation letters. I wonder why the BN side won’t bother to contest if the resignation letters are binding. Neither the judges rule on the legality of the letters. It is the most upsetting that, the judges, instead, choose to go beyond their juridiction to declare the Speaker decision is void.

  7. Shiou,

    Clearly the parties who were parties to the transaction did not have the best interest of those who voted for them and the general electorate in mind. When the intention is to defraud then any agreement though appears legal when entered into would be against public interest and would not be allowed to stand. In short it is as if they had not signed.

  8. What happens in Perak may now be out of PKR’s control but what happens in their backyard is not!

    “ …… within PKR, there are rumblings of discontent. A number of senior party leaders are understood to have been against the move to allow Wong back into government. These party leaders contend that the issue is a powder keg that could explode in their faces especially if more revealing pictures are potentially leaked.
    http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/23935-khalid-under-pressure-as-he-stands-by-eli-

  9. “The pictures are believed to be part of series of private photos of Wong, which were previously posted widely over the internet. Khalid wants any pictures which are surrendered to be analyzed to determine if it’s genuine and urged action to be taken against those who leaked the photographs for breaching Wong’s privacy. He added that it was an offence to possess the pictures and anyone found with them could face criminal action.”

    http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/23935-khalid-under-pressure-as-he-stands-by-eli-

    Had PKR shown real leadership and its leaders have the foresight needed and accepted her resignation, such news would not be making the rounds in the media today would it?? She’s not the victim. PKR is. How long does it take before Anwar realise this??

  10. My guess is that whatever pictures etc. there are will now circulate through a wider audience and PKR be made to look amateur and politically immature. Perhaps they have their own reasons for justifying this decision of the Selangor MB but I still say Anwar Ibrahim should step in right now and veto this. PKR is allowing too many small fires to develop.

  11. At 81, his majesty doesn’t have many more years left to spend in this planet. I wish him well, that his remaining years will be fruitful and that when he eventually goes to meet his Maker, he will be remembered for the good he has done, not with bad memories of being a main player in the robbery of the citizens of Perak as to their choice of government. Clearly our Perakian brethren feel completely cheated of their choice of govt, with the royalty seen as firmly behind all this. We can argue until the cows come home about the technicalities, legality and legitimacy of the BN govt, the fact remains that the people of Perak will not be given their chance to vote for whom they want to be their govt. I will be happy to place my last dollar (although I am not a betting man) that BN will completely trounced if a state election is carried out now.

  12. If I were Najib I would get Jabatan Agama Selangor to charge this Helmi guy for the offence of close proximity in absentia in syariah court and subpoena Wong to testify as a witness. Then I’ll sit back and watch the fun.

  13. “(Sultan of Perak) ….. main player in the robbery of the citizens of Perak as to their choice of government.” barry

    They don’t call his Majesty’s Government for no reason.

  14. It is already in the minds (therefore memory) of most people, isn’t it, that the sultan is a party to this takeover, legal or not?

    His majesty’s government? But who elects the government? His majesty? Or the citizen?

  15. New Yorker Bean and others,

    This Perak affair is messy and has wide implications given the Federal Court’s decision against Speaker Sivakumar. It does not take a legal genius of Lord Dening’s stature to tell us that the Rule of Law in Malaysia is non–existent and when the Federal Court makes a decision there is no privy council for us to seek redress. We are thus done for.

    Keep politics out of our courts and the Palace frankly has no business to make political comments. Otherwise, our rulers and regents will be dragged into the mud of UMNO gutter politics the way Mahathir did to them moons ago. Institutions exist only when they serve, and are respected by, the people.

  16. The legal/bureaucratic lingo is beginning to have it’s toll on many disgruntled souls in the street . Utter disgust vented out by eiz235 represents many and denotes the the perception people are having towards the legal instruments of government and how it is utilized by the politicians to deflate an already punctured legal system .

    The legitimate interpreters are like lost balls in the high weeds , so intoxicated on serving vested interests , refusing to acknowledge that they are at the brink of hallucinating ‘the reading of the law’ .

    This may sound like a bunch of trash to people in the legal fraternity but this bunch of trash may sound more sensible to the people on the ground . A chain is no stronger than its weakest link , sooner Pakatan seek ways to change its on ways and there onwards change the present status quo rather than challenge it . , the better.
    ,

  17. “His majesty’s government? But who elects the government? His majesty? Or the citizen?” barry

    You pay taxes, don’t you? It says so on the envelope.

    As far as election goes, to say citizens get to choose the government is as accurate as to say the King appoints the Prime Minister of his choice.

    Among the voters are made-to-order ‘citizens’ and people who got not business to be among the living. These are not members of the citizenry by any stretch of the imagination!

    You and I do not get to choose who our candidates are during elections. A bunch of scheming politicians sit together behind close doors some consulting the same ‘spirits’ that Justice Augustine Paul does and decide who should best represent the people when about the only thing they represent are really themselves, their interests and those of their cronies. They tell us this is democracy and go on to quote Rousseau and his social contract written some three hundred years earlier.

    They tell us freedom and democracy is about the right to choose. Then they go and manufacture cars which are unfit for the roads, flood the local market with these, and ask us to choose.

    And like fools at the end of every five years we celebrate the victories of candidates of our choice.

    Citizens get to ‘elect the government’? Really??

    The last time I tried to remind so-called public servants that they are there to serve the public, they told me to go fly kite. I have been flying kite since.

  18. “Keep politics out of our courts and the Palace frankly has no business to make political comments.” Din Merican

    Din Merican,

    You and I know that it takes two to tango – even if you’re doing the salsa.

    Or have we forgotten that the PKR government in Selangor recently tried to get the sultan to do their housecleaning for them.

    Our monarchs are not God’s representative on earth as the Emperor of Japan is to the Japanese. At least in their case the emperor’s voice was never heard for thousands of years until they ran out of kamikaze pilots in the 1940s..

    We should let our sultans remain behind palace walls, preserve the mystery surrounding their lives, letting them out so they could cut yellow ribbons and practice their military salutes. Care must be taken to see that none should be left with the need to make their point by hitting the heads of their caddies with their golf clubs.

    As for our judges they should leave politics at home just like they should never leave home without their American Express cards.

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