Ever since the report on Sultan Perak's birthday celebration dinner on April 19th, 2009, there is a lingering question in my mind. Allow me first to quote HRH below:
"Peranan raja pemerintah adalah mengatasi apa yang tersurat dalam peruntukan perlembagaan. Raja pemerintah mempunyai tanggungjawab yang lebih luas dalam memastikan bahawa semangat perlembagaan, falsafah di sebalik setiap undang-undang yang tersurat, kepentingan negara dan warga negara perlu sentiasa dilindungi."The mention of the term "raja pemerintah" as monarchy, the role beyond the written words of the constitution and the extended responsibility curiously relates back to the current political crisis in Perak.
Is the Monarchy sending a warning that they hold a trump card not known to many in the event democrasy failed? How will the Monarchy invoke their authority if situation in Perak deteriorate into a state of anarchy without regard to the constitution and the interest of the nation and citizens?
Before commenting further, this article taken from website Malaysia Aktif and written by Wahid Yunos attempted to interpret the speech of HRH below is a worthy read:
Why Sultan Azlan Shah is right about the Monarch's role within the constitutionThe strong tone in HRH's birthday speech is a clear message that law and order must be adhered to with all the respective institutions and positions playing its role as accorded in the federal and state constitution and related laws.
After Sultan Azlan Shah, the Sultan of Perak and Former Lord President of Malaysia said that the power of the monarchy is not limited to what is written down by the constitution, many people have come up to say that the Sultan may have erred in his opinion.
I say that those who say that the Sultan has erred do not understand history and the constitutional monarchy.
A constitutional monarchy is a result of a King agreeing to divest some of their absolute power into either a piece of paper called a constitution or a system of government that is based on representative government or, better known as a democracy.
At some point in the history, the Monarch consented to delegate some of the powers of the state from the crown to the house of representative. The operative here is delegate.
The reality of any constitutional monarchy is that the absolute power of state is still invested in the Monarch and after every general election; he graciously agrees to delegate the powers to a Prime Minister. And he does it willingly.
At the point between the announcements of the official result of the General Election, the caretaker Prime Minister is no longer with authority and the new Prime Minister has yet to be appointed.
At this point in time the absolute power of the state is returned to the Crown and it agrees to redelegate it to the new Prime Minister.
This is not merely a formality; it is an important reminder to the country as to the source of the Government's power, the wellspring of its sovereignty.
It is important to note that the Agong or King is the commander in Chief of the military and this power is never delegated to anyone. You may argue that the monarch's role here is ceremonial but there is really nothing stopping him from assuming that responsibility and power in full. Since he is commander in chief, should an order come out from his mouth, all the officers from the chief of the armed forces downwards are obliged to follow; failure to execute his command is punishable as the failure to execute the command of any superior officer.
From this we know and should be reminded that the King and Malay Sultans are still the real source of power of the Federal and State Government, the fact that they delegate the power willingly means that their role in Government is more than just ceremonial, they agreed to delegate power to the people to fulfill the demands of the population and if they see that there is deterioration in the system, it is quite reasonable that they should play the supervisory role to stop the rot.
In a sense the democratic Government that we enjoy today exists with the consent of the Monarch and theoretically, he who gives consent can always take it back. With this in mind I think Sultan Azlan is correct in concluding that the powers of the Monarch is not limited by the mere words of the constitution.
In his speech, HRH touched on the three rights of the Monarchy. Firstly, the right to advise and give views. Secondly, the right to give support and encouragement. Thirdly, the right to give reminders and criticise. HRH went further to say that the Monarchy is not oblivion to the surrounding and is capable to hear, see and speak.
To the many casual observers of history, the 1874 Pangkor Treaty and many other treaties between the rulers and British is seen as the rulers relinquishing their power to the colonial invaders. Looking at it in another way, those treaties provide legitimacy and reaffirm the sovereign status of the Monarchy. It is an undisputed document of the Monarchy's legal claim on the nation.
According to Tan Sri Aziz Abdul Rahman in a Perkasa Seminar, the British were not colonial in the legal sense but administrator on behalf of the Sultan. In his view, independence and introduction of people rule was not gained from the British but accorded by the Monarchy.
Most seldom realised the tri-partite discussion between the Monarchy, British and subjects (led by the Malays) in the process of independence. It is not merely the Malayans seeking Independence from the British.
Will that mean power can be taken back in the event of breakdown in law and order? Could the Monarchy seize control of Government, when the basic covenant of this nation is breached? Can and how would the power of the Monarchy be executed?
The answers to these questions has not been conclusively answered. But it would make interesting discussion as we approach the reconvening of the Perak State Assembly on May 7th, 2009.
It could be a clue for some unexpected surprises if a solution is not reached by then. HRH Sultan Perak will be attending to address the session.