In His Majesty we trust

by Tunku Aziz
The Malaysian Insider – Opinion | 20 March 2009

Zaid Ibrahim is one person I greatly admire because he, no matter what the subject is under discussion, is ready to take it on with courage and candour.

Zaid is his own man, beholden to no one as far as I know, and is not out there in the public domain to please his political masters because clearly he has none.

In my conversations with him over the last few months on a range of political issues, I have noticed, much to my surprise and delight, that he is apparently incapable of harbouring any malice, not even towards people who have acted malevolently against him.

Such is the measure of Zaid the man who now finds himself maliciously attacked on all sides by the besieged Umno/BN cabal because he had the moral and intellectual courage to suggest to His Majesty the Agong that a person such as Najib whose personal reputation is in complete tatters should be told in the nicest possible way where to get off the gravy train.

Significant numbers of Malaysians are of the opinion that he poses too great a risk to the country and he is the most unlikely person to be able to play a positive role in the rebranding of Malaysia.

This candidate for the highest political office in the land is not even prepared, so it seems, to subject himself to public scrutiny by suing all those who have maligned him and put his personal integrity into question. That would not only teach them a lesson of sorts, but also clear his name, once and for all, of all allegations of impropriety.

There are those among the Umno top brass who say that the Agong should not break with tradition. He should appoint the president of the dominant party in the coalition as the prime minister.

There is nothing wrong with being tradition-bound, but there is everything reprehensible about clinging to a practice that, on this occasion at any rate, could divide our people even more and degrade our country’s international standing. We — whether we like it or not — are not entirely on our own on this planet.

The Agong must fully take into account the sentiments on the ground because so much is at stake should he make an ill-informed decision. The Perak tragedy should be an example to all members of the ruling elite the consequence of arriving at a decision without heeding and ascertaining the true wishes of the people who are often dismissed as the “chattering masses” or even less flattering, “the great unwashed.”

I do, of course, realise that His Majesty would be hard pressed to select his next prime minister because the Umno pool of talent is all but empty, but as many agree, compared with Najib, anyone else would be a brilliant choice.

Umno should consider bringing back Tengku Razaleigh, whom they have put out to pasture, to restore public confidence in the next government. We expect Ku Li will be happy to help out as a duty to the country, as prime minister, ad interim, to give Umno the breathing space (even a lifeline perhaps) it needs badly to rehabilitate its crumbling image.

The nation at a time such as this could not be better served than by a man of his prestige, reputation and experience. In this, Malaysia’s hour of need, Ku Li will be just the tonic for a jaded, disenchanted and divided people.

It is a remedy worth trying. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by breaking with tradition. Umno should support Zaid Ibrahim’s idea because it provides a way out of its seemingly intractable problem of fast receding public confidence to govern honourably.

You cannot govern by abusing the law to compel and exact acquiescence from citizens who have woken up to the fact that they have rights to justice and truth.

His Majesty the Agong is being presented with a rare opportunity to show his subjects that the noble institution of the king is more than a mere decorative fixture in the elaborate scheme of ancient rituals and symbolisms at the disposal of the ruling party; the power of the king in our Constitutional arrangement is real and truly awesome if used wisely.

The power we have entrusted to our king must be exercised for the absolute good of the country and the people. The Agong understands the wishes of his people and will want to do the right thing by them. Daulat Tuanku.

  1. #1 by taiking on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 11:15 am

    The position of prime minister as the term suggest is the head of all ministers. Hence he is also the head of government – the chief of all chiefs in the government hierachy. The person holding that position is also called the prime minister of a country. E.g. PM of UK. PM of Singapore. PM of Malaysia. UK and Malaysia share one common factor. There is a monarch in both countries. Which then means the government really is the majesty’s government and the people, the majesty’s people. So here just like in uk the pm is Agong’s prime minister. That is why we still maintain the (now symbolic) practice of appointment by the King of a person to the post of pm – the King appoints his pm.

    Would the king want the character najib (as described by zaid) to be his pm? And to head his majesty’s government? These two questions have nothing to do with the political clash between umno and pakatan. It is about whether najib is a suitable candidate for the post of pm. This is no different from considering say whether a taxi driver could be a suitable candidate. His majesty must have regard to the background and special ability and experience of the potential candidate. And his level as well as degree of acceptance by the people. Would the king consider someone who is half of what zaid described given that there we as a nation is not short of capable men and women.

    Mahathir said Zaid was stupid to tell the king not to appoint najib. Why should the king listen to and be persuaded by one person’s opinion. That was his justification. Mahathir quite obviously disagreed with Zaid’s opinion. And it is equally obviously that Mahathir’s opinion is not representative of the people in malaysia. Speaking to people on the street suggest to me that almost everyone shares Zaid’s view. Mahathir being an ex-umno man and hence like all umnoputras is clearly out of touch with reality.

  2. #2 by yellowkingdom on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 11:47 am

    I support Zaid Ibrahim’s unwavering call to Agong. Tunku Aziz’s passionate plea to our Agong is to be respected.

  3. #3 by dawsheng on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 11:50 am

    “The power we have entrusted to our king must be exercised for the absolute good of the country and the people. The Agong understands the wishes of his people and will want to do the right thing by them. Daulat Tuanku.” – Tunku Aziz

    Can you blame me for being skeptical?

  4. #4 by dawsheng on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 11:53 am

    It is simply quite silly to ask the Agong to do the impossible.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 12:19 pm

    What can Ku Li bring to the table ? I mean the Agong’s table.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 12:20 pm

    How can one ask the Agong to summarily appoint another person than the President of UMNO (Najib) to be PM when the constitutional formula is benchmarked against whoever who commands the majority in Dewan Rakyat??? Is the King to follow the constitution or take into account the sentiments on the ground?

    Please recollect the argument that is used against HRH Perak Sultan’s dismissing PR Mohd Nizar in favour of Zamri as MB. The argument is that such transfer of power should not take place in absence of a vote of no confidence taken by majority against Mohd Nizar in Perak State Assembly.

    So if that were the case, is there a vote of no confidence passed against the incoming UMNO president or a vote of confidence in favour of the outgoing one in the Dewan Rakyat passed by majority in the first place for the King to take assessment according to the Constitutional formula?

    Or is there a suggestion that we don’t follow the Constitution?

    If the Constitution not followed, how does His Majesty take into account and measure sentiments on the ground of who represents consent and approval of majority in the best traditions of democracy?

    Is there a suggestion anywhere that his Royal highness read the blogs like this one, websites like MalaysiaToday or Malaysiakini to take measurement???

  7. #7 by DAP man on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 12:35 pm

    Oh yes, didn’t BERSIH send a memo to the King to get EC to clean up the electoral process?
    Didn’t Malaysians sign a petition pleading with the King not to appoint Zaki as the CJ?
    Didn’t Karpal provide proof of the CJ’s corrupt practices?

    If Perak is an example, can you say I am wrong. The entire Perak population (70+%) wants fresh state elections.

    Nazir has asked for an audience from the sultan, but has got none.

    Going by the above all I can say is “Keeping on dreaming friends!”.
    What we will get is a deafening silence!!!

    The King has to think a hundred times if he decides to pick Razaleigh and in the process offend the UMNO warlords. A refusal to pick Najib will see UMNO running amok and uttering seditious statements against the King.

    I would say, let the Parliament decide. If Najib is the one, so be it. We live with it and see the nation parish.
    Why push the responsibility to the King when our elected MPs should be the one who should carry the baby.

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 12:38 pm

    The tradition and convention is that the King should appoint the president of the dominant party in the coalition as the prime minister. That is true but that is because the tradition/convention is in accord with constitutional prescription that the PM should be someone who commands majority in Dewan Rakyat. And the President of UMNO always by tradition/convention commands the majority in the Dewan Rakyat by operation of the party whip on any motion of confidence or no confidence on any minister including the Prime Minister.

    It is NOT a case of tradition and convention for tradition and convention sake : one can break it if one could solve the constitutional impasse – break the BN’s operation of whip – and get majority of Dewan Rakyat to support a motion of no confience against the in coming UMNO president. Can one do it?

    To follow the constitution is important. We are supposed to be ruled by it – not any person including the Ruler who is Constitutional monarch because as the word implies the King is subject to Constitution.

    This is the whole basis of Karpal Singh’s argument – that in proposing that he is not guilty of sedition for suggesting HRH Perak Sultan’s decision in favour of Zamri be subject to courts review.

    If the Perak Sultan cannot just favour Zamri in favour of Mohd Nizar without vote taken in Perak Assembly, so the Yang di Pertuan Agong cannot just favour (say) Ku Li ove Najib without prior proper processes of a majority vote in the Lower house of Parliament (Dewan Rakyat).

    We can’t have the arguments both ways!

  9. #9 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 12:41 pm

    Whether the Agong should appoint Najib to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia will depend on whether Najib can command majority support from the Parliament. The role of the constitutional Monarch shall be limited and construed by the provision of the Constitution. No one should attempt to create a new set of different law by exception, unless there is constitutional amendment being passed with two thirds majority in the Parliament.


  10. #10 by k1980 on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 1:06 pm

    Return of the bloodsuckers

    The UMNO General Assembly next week may table a resolution for the party to appoint Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as UMNO Adviser and Tun Daim Zainuddin as the National Economic Advisor

  11. #11 by taiking on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 1:09 pm

    Agong can not appoint najib. At the same time he would not not appoint najib. The first statement is philosophical and the second statement is reality. We the people however have our opinion which is contradictory to that of umno’s as to the choice of pm. The least we could do is to make it known that najib is not our choice – to let the king know our sentiment. Zaid knew well that his views will be ignored. Nonetheless it must be expressed given the significance of the appointment and the gravity of the situation.

  12. #12 by Godfather on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 1:26 pm

    Money talks, bullsh!t walks.

  13. #13 by dawsheng on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 1:26 pm

    “His Majesty the Agong is being presented with a rare opportunity to show his subjects that the noble institution of the king is more than a mere decorative fixture in the elaborate scheme of ancient rituals and symbolisms at the disposal of the ruling party; the power of the king in our Constitutional arrangement is real and truly awesome if used wisely.” – Tunku Aziz

    For someone who have read Paine’s Common Sense and came out with this statement deliberately ignoring the status quo, well, are there any justifications in the first place? Are we demanding or merely asking what the Agong can do for us with or without any consequences?

  14. #14 by limkamput on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 1:29 pm

    Hmmm, if we can’t even get the smaller issues like the Perak state government impasse or Karpal Singh sedition charges resolved, how are we able to get the King to take on the bigger one? Of course we can go on dreaming and hoping.

  15. #15 by dawsheng on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 1:30 pm

    We should stop using the Monarchy to achieve our political aims.

  16. #16 by pakualakurau on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 2:22 pm

    Altantuya Shaaribuu:” How and why she was murdered”. The sensation article not only appear in the French daily new paaper. It also appear in Thailand news paper call The Nation on 13th March 2009 on page 9A. I believe this article also appear in other country as well.
    We Malaysian will shame to have suspected murderer PM. Agong should reconsider appoint this men for top job. May god bless Malaysia.

  17. #17 by shamshul anuar on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 4:10 pm

    DEar dawsheng,

    Once the late Tunku wrote in Star newspaper( approximately 20 years ago) on one occasion where one Arab ambassador implied to then Yang DiPertuan Agung, Tuanku Abdul rahman, that a new Prime Minister should be appointed.

    His Majesty replied, “No. I cant sack him. Instead he can sack him”. The ambassador was dumbfounded. But such is the peculiarity of Malaysian politics.

    Yang DiPertuan Agung is a ceremonial; head of state. The executive power lies with the PrimeMinister. The King should appoint a leader whom he feels commands majoerity in Parliament. By convention, President of UMNO, being the head of the largest political party in Parliament should be the PM.

    As such, the choice is limited.

  18. #18 by wanderer on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 4:37 pm


  19. #19 by frankyapp on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 4:37 pm

    All rules are made,like malaysians rules are also made to protect the raykat during the formation of malaysia. All rules should be applied in an elastic manner accordingly to soothe the present situation in the interest of the rakyat. If and when the fact is that NR is not acceptable by the majority of the rakyat,then the rule should applied it’s elasticity by the King/Agung. That’s all it takes.

  20. #20 by Loh on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 8:57 pm

    The King has the prerogative to appoint a prime minister after the election. The former King appointed AAB.

    AAB will soon resign his office. He can tell the King that he has resigned his cabinet, and the King can choose to dissolve the parliament if AAB so suggests.

    AAB can tell the King that he resigns his post, and suggest one person to be considered for appointment as PM. The person AAB suggests does not require specific qualification in terms of party position. It is for the King to decide whether the person recommended would command the support of the majority of the lower house.

    If AAB decides to recommend somebody who is not favoured by the majority of Malaysians, judging from his reputation and his envelopment by scandals, and that the King chooses to appoint another person, the country might end in confusion, and the outcome could be worse than what happened in Perak. However if AAB recommends to the King a person from UMNO who is not a subordinate to Najib in UMNO party position but who has the support of the general public, then it paves the way for the King to appoint such as person as PM, without any doubt as to constitutional convention.

    AAB was forced out of his PM position by a group of persons elected to UMNO supreme council. AAB was criticized by UMNO members for his transition plan through private negotiations with Najib, as though the country’s future is the private property for the two to decide. The way AAB conducted such negotiations gives rise to speculations that AAB was seeking Najib’s promise that AAB’s personal interest would be protected after he leaves the PM post. That includes the business interest of AAB’s son such as Scormi, and the political future of his son in law. Whether that was true was immaterial, but perception counts.

    AAB promised to reform the country. He listed a few projects such as reforming the judiciary, the ACA and the police. ACA has been converted to become Malaysian agency for car and cows. The police and the court in Perak have shown loyalty to UMNO rather than the rule of law.

    It is clear that AAB have no ability or willingness to reform the country. Can we ask him to do a special reform on himself? He should reform his mindset. He should stop to use his position for the pecuniary benefits of his son and son-in-law, and to accept the philosophy that they should fend for themselves and look after their future. AAB has squandered the goodwill and the hope of the citizens who gave him unpredecented support in 2004. He should stop selling off the future of the citizens and the country for the benefits of his family.

    The agreement he had with Najib was based on self interest. He might still be forgiven for all his sins if he would now use his little intelligence to feel as an ordinary citizen who he would prefer to be the PM that takes over. If he insists on Najib, then he is beyond redemption.

  21. #21 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 9:52 pm

    Onlooker Politics Says:

    Today at 12: 41.09 (8 hours ago)
    Whether the Agong should appoint Najib to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia will depend on whether Najib can command majority support from the Parliament. The role of the constitutional Monarch shall be limited …”

    PKR-PR wants the Agong to use his discretion under the constitution to not appoint Najib. To strict constructionists this means giving a broad interpretation of the law that is unintended. Is PKR-PR saying in effect that the monarch should be allowed to interfere in the political process to stop a tin-pot dictator from assuming office? Not too long ago, there’s this tin pot dictator who gave his country a bad reputation just by kicking dust into the face of foreign leaders.

    Then PR is no different from UMNO which was instrumental in removing the monarch’s general immunity, trimming their wings so they could not fly and then coming to the aid of the monarch by threatening to throw anyone who questions his decision by giving a broad interpretation to the word ‘sedition’.

  22. #22 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 9:54 pm

    … in jail.

  23. #23 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 10:04 pm

    Most people, including I myself, who think that AAB will not give up the premiership in the very near future may have overestimated AAB’s ability to think and act independently.

    I slowly realize my mistake in making such a prediction as AAB will still hung around as a PM for quite sometimes. Now I change my mind and make another prediction that AAB will negotiate with Najib after the UMNO party election in order to seek promise from Najib that AAB’s son-in-law, Khairy, and AAB’s own son, who is a businessman involving in nuclear plant parts transaction which was sanctioned by the United Nations, shall both not be touched by the law enforcement units of Malaysia. AAB will then happily retire to Australia in order to run a gourmet restaurant with his charming wife.

    AAB’s final decision of going retire is the reason why Ali now pledges his full support to Najib as the new president of UMNO even though Ali has been competely barred from contesting in the post of Deputy President of UMNO.

  24. #24 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 10:25 pm

    “Umno should consider bringing back Tengku Razaleigh, whom they have put out to pasture, to restore public confidence in the next government. “ Tunku Aziz

    Why are you helping UMNO with this idea? You choose to act as cheer leader for the opposition, abandoning your apolitical position as observer of the political process to that of being a participant – and now?

    I believe the only hope for UMNO is for the return of the Old Guards led by Tengku Razaliegh and his loyal supporters who have been afraid to make their stand earlier but must be jolted into realizing that the eclipse of their once mighty party is imminent unless they act now.

    “There is nothing wrong with being tradition-bound, but there is everything reprehensible about clinging to a practice ..” Tunku Aziz

    The force of convention can also be stronger than the force of law. I think you’re a conflicted individual. On the one hand you seem to want to be a liberal when in reality you are a conservative closely identified with the Old Order.

  25. #25 by OneMsian on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 10:36 pm

    AAB has passed the UMNO leadership to Najib by not contesting. If he really love this country, then he should not pass the post of PM just like this. If Najib want to be PM, he MUST earn it, not INHERIT it. Malaysia is for Malaysian, not AAB’s alone where he can just pass like this.

    He should advise His Majesty to dissolve the Parliament since he wish to retire. That is LOVE for MALAYSIA & HIS MAJESTY. Do not put His Majesty in a difficult position.

  26. #26 by Onlooker Politics on Saturday, 21 March 2009 - 10:43 pm

    Tunku Aziz as a member of the Kedah Royal Family may want to add additional interventionist power into the hand of the Agong. I personally also quite agree with him that the Monarch shall be given additional power to serve as a stakeholder cum human resources manager of the job vacancy of premiership of Malaysia so that the Agong will function as a checks-and-balances force in selecting and appointing a capable, competent, sound-minded and morally acceptable candidate to be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

    However, in the past history of Malaysia after Independence, there is no case law having been made as a precedent for the Monarch to reject a candidate choice of the Prime Minister since it was usually assumed that the Umno President would be the natural candidate who already commanded majority of the Dewan Rakyat (the lower house of Parliament).

    If Pakatan Rakyat leaders agree that the Agong shall be given the interventionist power, then the Federal Court shall also be given the free discretion to make a court ruling in the case of Nizar versus Zambry over the issue of who has the legitimacy to be declared as legal Menteri Besar of Perak. If the Federal Court rules in favour of Zambry by saying that the Monarch has the full discretion to appoint and dismiss a Menteri Besar, then by extended application of the case law the Agong shall also have the full discretion to reject Najib and then select and appoint Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as the next Prime Minister of Malaysia.

    The core questions now are as follow:

    1. Are the Pakatan Rakyat leaders ready to give up the ruling power of the state government of Perak?

    2. Are the Pakatan Rakyat leaders ready to accept the truth that the Agong may in the future reject Anwar Ibrahim by saying that Anwar Ibrahim is morally not fit to become the new Prime Minister of Malaysia because of his past criminal record?

    3. Are the Pakatan Rakyat leaders ready to agree with the Agong that in the future the Agong may handpick personally Nik Aziz to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia?

    4. Are the Pakatan Rakyat leaders ready to agree with the Agong in case the Agong says in the future that 20,000 acres of virgin jungle lands shall be approved by the Land Office to the Agong in order to exchange for the Agong’s consent to a candidate choice for the post of Prime Minister?

    All the above quetions are necessary to be raised now in order to seek early clarification on the political stand of each and every Pakatan Rakyat’s component party about the issue of vesting more power into the hand of the Constitutional Monarch.

  27. #27 by Jason Ng on Sunday, 22 March 2009 - 1:28 am

    NO to najib! Please no!

  28. #28 by undergrad2 on Sunday, 22 March 2009 - 3:10 am

    Godfather Says:

    Yesterday at 13: 26.39
    Money talks, bullsh!t walks.”

    Limkaput is 4′ 8″ tall. That’s how high they stack sh*it these days.

  29. #29 by limaho on Sunday, 22 March 2009 - 9:53 am

    I hesitated. Should I comment? No longer living in Malaysia but I still have fond memories of my earlier years growing up in that beautiful country. Let me give my 2 cents worth. In most democratic countries Nagib would not be able to reach the PM position. He just has too much baggage and lacks credibility. From what I have read about the Altantuya murder case and the massive corruption in connection with the submarine purchase I cannot see how he can gain the confidence of the people he is going to lead.

  30. #30 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 22 March 2009 - 10:04 am

    What does it mean when the highest ideals of truly the best Malays are ignored and ridiculed? Why do the Malays especially the political establishment distrust their very best on an issue such as this. Do they really believe that they do not have the interest of all Malays especially the most unfortunate at heart? Or do they look down on their very best as impractical and over idealistic? Is it logical that Zaid and Tunku impractical and idealistic despite spending their humble beginning and their very illustrious careers?

    No. Its all about being spolit, plain and simple prodigality…

  31. #31 by voice out on Monday, 23 March 2009 - 12:58 am

    i believe Agung is a wise one , isnt it ?

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