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Friday, October 21, 2011

The reason Malays don't respect Sultans

The federal Islamic development agency claimed today that many Muslim do not respect the authority of the Malay Rulers who are heads of religions for their respective states. On the eve of a planned gathering of a million Muslims to defend the faith, the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) prepared a Friday sermon that accused some parties of putting political interests ahead of the religion. “Many Muslims today do not respect the views and authority and in fact question the Sultan heads of the Islamic religious councils. The sanctity of the faith has been politicised and the split among Muslims has affected the function and role of the councils,” said the sermon titled “State Islamic religious councils drive the transformation of the faithful”.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Therefore, the opinion that Rajas should be placed under a Constitution that determined the status and role of the Rajas was born. With this method, the Rajas could no longer act as they liked. The powers of the Rajas would be determined by the Constitution, that is the country's basic law. Yet, there were Rajas who were willing to hand over their own states to foreign powers while ignoring the Constitution.

Although the representatives were free to speak in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Undangan Negeri about any topic, but they could not touch on the Rajas because any criticism of the Rajas could be interpreted as sedition and they could be charged under the Sedition Act. This provision was a result of an amendment made in 1971. Before this, criticism of the Rajas could be made in the house. In Britain and other countries, the Parliament was free to criticize the Rajas. It is clear that that criticizing the Rajas does not destroy the Rajas' majesty.

While this prohibition on criticism is said to protect the Rajas' majesty, but when the Rajas are not criticized, they will not be aware of the wrongs that they have committed. Hence, maybe more wrongs will be committed and these wrongs may become more serious. This not only contaminates the Rajas' majesty but can also cause the People to hate the Rajas. It is not true to say the prohibition on criticizing the Rajas will protect the Rajas' majesty. Actually, the majesty of the Rajas will be contaminated because of this prohibition.

Unfortunately, because the Chief Ministers and Prime Minister are Malays that are unwilling to be on bad terms with the Rajas, when the Rajas do something that is not supposed to be done, no effective criticism is made. Even if there is, the unwillingness of the Rajas to care about the criticisms of these official advisers does not bring about any action towards the Rajas.

Hence, in the history of independent Malaysia, the actions of the Rajas and parties who hide behind the Rajas that exceed the rights and privileges of the Rajas become more serious over time. The possibility is that it will become more serious in the future. If there are no amendments to the law, like those suggested here, without doubt worse matters will happen that will cause the Raja Institution to be hated by the people. It is not impossible that if one day in the future, demands are made to completely abolish the Raja System although there are provisions in the Constitution.

Hence this amendment that is suggested aims to avoid or prevent the escalation of hatred towards the Rajas that could bring about demands to abolish the Raja System. This amendment is to save the Rajas themselves and the Constitutional Monarchy system. To strengthen the Constitutional provisions to maintain the Raja System, provisions are made such that any suggestion to abolish the Raja System will be interpreted as sedition and falls under Sedition Laws.

If Malaysia intends to become a country that practices Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy, the immunity that is given to the Rajas must be abolished. Because the Constitution in countries that practice the Constitutional Monarchy System doesn't give immunity to their Kings, the abolishment of the immunity of the Malay Rajas cannot jeopardize their sovereignty. In the modern era, only because the King can't commit crimes as they like, the King's status will not be jeopardized, especially in a country that practices Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy.

The interpretation of the sedition towards the King in the Constitution is so wide until no criticism is can be made in Parliament by members of the Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Undangan. Hence, the media also has no opportunity to report. Criticism can only be made by the Rajas' advisors behind closed doors. If this criticism is ineffective, there is nothing that can be done.

Actually all three former Prime Ministers, as advisors to the Rajas, have already criticized the Rajas many times while they were in service. I know criticisms have been made because this matter has been repeatedly reported in Cabinet meetings and also the UMNO Supreme Council.

It should be reminded that the respect of the People towards the Raja cannot be determined by laws. With your permission, 'Respect must be earned'. Having laws that scare the People will not bring 'respect'. With the realization that the Rajas can be brought to court, Rajas will certainly avoid committing acts that will cause the people not to respect the Rajas. Hence, the Raja Institution will be better respected and better preserved.

Extract of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's speech in the Malaysian Parliament (1993)

Source: Raja Petra Kamarudin - Malaysia Today

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