Rulers for all Malaysians

By Tunku Abdul Aziz

NOV 2 — “RESPECT CONSTITUTION” screamed the New Sunday Times front page. There is really no need for the “Malay rulers” to have undue misgivings about their humble subjects occasionally dipping into the Constitution and questioning some aspect or other they do not fully understand.

Common, ordinary people like me are not Constitutional experts, unlike at least one of their Highnesses. Fear us not because we are not thinking even remotely of storming the Bastille. Such an unworthy thought has never crossed our minds, and certainly not mine.

We only want to know, as citizens, where we stand in Constitutional terms. It is our right to be enlightened. In other words, what are our Constitutional rights and obligations?

I can understand the rulers’ unease and apprehension after what Mahathir did to denigrate and run their institution into the ground, spewing filthy lies and uncharitable innuendoes against them individually and collectively. And, generally, he succeeded in causing public disaffection. Why was he not charged?

The rulers seemed, at that time, to have accepted Mahathir’s lese majeste without a murmur and Umno, now their avowed protectors, went along with, and did nothing to restrain, Mahathir’s megalomaniac excesses against their own rulers.

The rulers now tell us to respect their position. They can count on us to do that but it has to be on a quid pro quo basis. I am sure their royal highnesses have no problem with that.

The rulers also exhort us to understand history and, from what I understand, Umno under Mahathir certainly dealt their royal highnesses a cruel hand and reduced our rulers to contempt and ridicule. That is a historical fact. Yet, Mahathir got away without being held to account.

It does seem an awful pity that their royal highnesses are apparently quite happy to describe themselves as “Malay Rulers.” Does this not jar on the ear, I wonder? Since when in the post Merdeka period has the palace become an exclusively Malay institution?

The customs and traditions of the Malay court themselves, for a start, predate the arrival of Islam in the peninsula, and there is little or no substantial element of “Malayness” for example, in the installation ceremony of the rulers and other ancient court ceremonial rituals.

May I humbly and respectfully suggest to our rulers that they drop the word Malay and refer to themselves, much more accurately, in my view, as the Sultan of Kedah, Perak, etc as the case may be? That would be a gesture of inclusiveness, reflecting the reality on the ground and in keeping with today’s mood.

I am no respecter of institutions that cannot justify their existence, especially those rendered dysfunctional on moral or ethical grounds. I am afraid many of the institutions of government put in place as part of the Constitutional arrangements to protect us, the citizens, have been systematically interfered with and cynically exploited and viciously compromised during the long Mahathir years of impunity. He had them reduced into dens of iniquity to serve his unbridled personal and political ambitions.

Mahathir has the gall to spout the somewhat spurious standby mantra of all corrupt politicians which goes something like, “Whatever I have done, I have done in the national interest.” With that we are expected to burst into Negara-ku.

With the collapse of nearly all of the crucially important national institutions, the institution of rulers takes on a new aspect in a country whose government, for decades, has sleaze for constant companionship.

It is our last hope in a country totally bereft of moral and ethical values, with little left of the core values that once featured so proudly in our Constitution. Years of tinkering with the Constitution according to Mahathir’s version of the “national interest” has but disembowelled the heart and the essence of a once great Constitution.

The skeletal remains must be given a new lease of life and more flesh so that it will once more be the anchor of the nation’s legitimate hopes and aspirations. This will be given practical effect when Pakatan Rakyat accepts the unconditional surrender of Najib’s heavily defended fortress.

It will fall because the voters will ring out the old, and ring in the new in the next general elections. They want change. Putrajaya, that symbol of all that is squalid, will fall because corruption has weakened the government’s legitimacy to government; the moral fabric is in tatters.

While I do not expect our rulers to interfere in the political process, I do however expect our much loved and respected rulers of ALL Malaysians to help in protecting the integrity of the Constitution. After all, they occupy a central place in our Constitution.

They can use their considerable influence and leverage as Constitutional rulers to protect the citizens by defending the Constitution. It is their duty.

  1. #1 by DAP man on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 8:07 pm

    When Mahathir travelled the length and breath of the country, literally denigrating, disparaging and mocking them, there was not a murmur of protest from the rulers. They turned dumb.
    They lost their sting. No statements on preserving the constitution nor resistance.

    They turned into toothless mice, hidden in their holes, not to be seen nor heard.

    Now that UMNO the oppressor, has turned defender, they issue a political correct statement to warn those from the ‘minority’.

    When Tunku Aziz said every single institution has been compromised, I guess he meant ‘every’.

  2. #2 by Loh on Tuesday, 2 November 2010 - 9:51 pm

    ///“RESPECT CONSTITUTION” screamed the New Sunday Times front page. There is really no need for the “Malay rulers” to have undue misgivings about their humble subjects occasionally dipping into the Constitution and questioning some aspect or other they do not fully understand.///– Tunku Abdul Aziz

    If respecting the constitution is the same as respecting the law, then it would be more relevant to advise the citizens to be law abiding. There is no need to mention only the constitution since there are laws not specifically included in the constitution.

    If the call for respecting the constitution implies that the constitution cannot be changed, the call has come too late since UMNO has changed the constitution as it pleases.

    However if the call was to advise the people not to be involved in its discussion, then that cast aspersion that Malaysia is not a true democracy. The people should be able to voice their opinion and indicate how they wish the constitution to look like. Clearly the majority will carry the day in a democracy and the defeated minority have every right to air their grievances. The Rulers being above politics would help the nation progress if they ensure that the government of the day adhere to the spirit of the constitution, and that the citizens are accorded full liberty to practice democracy. The government would no doubt tap on the status of the royal houses to advance their political interest. When the situation suits them, the words of the Rulers are their command. Otherwise, they would behave like Mamakthir in the 1992 when the government established a special court for special purposes through constitutional amendment.

  3. #3 by ktteokt on Wednesday, 3 November 2010 - 8:10 am

    Rulers for all Malaysians? What ruler? Which ruler? One from the royal family or one from the stationery shop used for measuring lengths? Even our “most learned” ruler who once sat on the bench did not abide by the law!

  4. #4 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 4 November 2010 - 8:01 am

    …….rulers from the shop can even be crooked as quality control is lacking.
    For the other kind of rulers, they exist and enjoy the beautiful life only because the citizens support them.

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