These are the words of PM Najib with regards the Citizens' Declaration presented the Agong:
“In the meeting His Highness took notice of the matter that was brought up by Mahathir. However, the Agong explained to Mahathir that he cannot be involved in what Bersatu is doing.
“This is as the declaration made by Bersatu was not in accordance with the constitution. Any action should be in line with accepted practices via the parliament and electoral system for the rakyat to make their decision,”The statement is interesting in that Najib sights "accepted practices" and not the Constitution or any other relevant law.In addition , he incorrectly declares the Bersatu declaration "not in accordance with the constitution", when it should be obvious even to him that there is nothing unconstitutional or illegal about anyone or group petitioning the Agong.
The matter of "accepted practices" or convention has been discussed before in a previous posting where it has been pointed out that convention in the Malay context demands that the limits of the Agong's powers be not questioned. Hence, Najib's reliance on convention rather than law in defence of his position is curious, to say the least.
Friday, October 7, 2016
Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah
Given that Malaysia's Supreme Ruler or Yang DiPertuan Agong is elected every five years by the Conference of Rulers from among its members, it follows that it is the best interest of the sultans that no one person when elected as Agong act in any way that might be detrimental to their collective interest.
In fact, it does appear as if this right to protect , even defend, their collective interest is provided for in the Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia,which states in Article 38(6)(a):
The members of the Conference of Rulers may act in their discretion in any proceedings relating to the following functions, that is to say;
(a) the election or removal from office of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the election of the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong;
There does not appear to be any other provision in the Constitution that limits their discretion.
The 14th and current Yang di-Pertuan Agong , Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah, faces a situation where the exercise of his Constitutional and reserve powers are under intense scrutiny given the 1MDB scandal that implicates his prime minister Najib Razak in theft, money laundering and various other criminal matters that are being investigated in a number of jurisdictions. At stake is the proper governance of his country, and he faces ongoing calls from his people to dismiss his prime minister who has entrenched himself using both political machinery and legislation.The latter has involved the introduction of the National Security Council Act ,which the Conference Of Rulers advised should not be passed without "refinement". In addition, the Agong has been presented with a petition containing 1.3 million signatures imploring him to act.It has been reported that he has refused to consider that petition.
The Agong's refusal has implications for future holders of that office and the Conference Of Rulers as a whole for he oversees both an erosion of powers and a loss of confidence of their subjects.
That loss of confidence will lead to questions about the relevance of the institution of the sultanate ,and surely they must already realize that these questions are in fact being raised. The Conference Of Rulers is clearly in that situation where it has to consider removing the Agong, and perhaps his soon to be appointed successor should he persist in his predecessor's behaviour, in order to preserve the institution of the sultanate, hereditary rule,and all the privileges that come with it.