Monarchy and the Constitution

The Council of the Justices of the Peace of Perak together with the Perak Academy jointly organised a forum on “The Monarchy and the Constitution” on Saturday, October 14 at Syeun Hotel.

It featured Tan Sri Dr Rais bin Yatim and Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi as speakers while Dato’ Seri Zainal Adzam bin Abd. Ghani moderated.

Present were guest of honour, Toh Muda Dato’ Ab Wahab bin Dato’ Seri Azizul Hassan, Territorial Chief of Kinta, Dato’ Seri Zainal Adzam bin Abd. Ghani, Member of the Perak Royal Council and Dr Adib Vincent Tung bin Abdullah, Chairman of the Perak Academy.

“Malaysia has the most royal families in the world. Our country caters nine royal houses that reign over nine different states in the peninsula. And every five years the royalties gather to appoint one of them to head the federal government and sit on the throne as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” remarked Wahab in his opening speech.

“This unique succession system, based on rotation, has been adopted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but only a handful of us actually know and understand the powers of the Malay Rulers and the role they play in the government,” he highlighted.

“It’s timely to have such forum to clear any misconception about our constitutional monarchy and the powers vested upon the King and his brother Malay Rulers,” Wahab concluded.

Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi is a professor of law in the University of Malaya, currently holding the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair as professor of constitutional law.

At the international level, Shad has served as a consultant to many countries including Maldives, Fiji, Timor Leste, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan advising them on their constitutional documents. In 1991, as part of an Asia Foundation Project, he drafted the constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

He has helped to draft several international documents including the Kuala Lumpur Declaration to Criminalise War and a document for the UN on Protection for Places of Worship.

According to Shad, in Malay history, the Rulers had nearly absolute powers. “The colonial government reduced the Rulers to a ceremonial role except in matters of Islam and adat. The Malay revolted against the Malayan Union and halted attempts to marginalise Malay Rulers further. The Merdeka Constitution restored some of the lustre of the monarchy,” he explained.

“Under Article 38 (2), the Majlis Raja-Raja (Council of Rulers) has the important constitutional function of electing the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The significance of this power is that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, in some aspects, represents the Majlis Raja-Raja and, therefore, is accountable to the Majlis,” he stated.

“The Majlis Raja-Raja has the great and dramatic power to dismiss the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Though never exercised, this remarkable power, under Article 38 (6), imposes significant pressure on the King to respect the wishes of his brother rulers,” he added.

Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim was a minister in multiple federal governments from 1974 to 2013. He was the Menteri Besar of Negeri Sembilan from 1978 to 1982. He held the Jelebu parliamentary seat until 2013.

Mei Kuan

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