Ampun Tuanku: A Brief Guide to Constitutional Government (ZI Publications, 2012)
Tuesday, 3rd July, 2012 § Leave a Comment
A well timed book this, what with the General Elections looming and for the first time in Malaysia’s history there is a distinct possibility that the Opposition could win the mandate of the people. Should that happen, Zaid Ibrahim asks, what will the ramifications be if “long-running tensions between the monarchy and the political establishment are not resolved”?
As anachronistic as the idea of a monarchy in a democratic country may be, Zaid Ibrahim argues that the Malay monarchs do have a role to play in Malaysia. And there lies the problem: there seems to be two different interpretations of the role of the Malay Rulers. Some of them see themselves as something close to an absolute monarch (Zaid cites the Sultan of Perak’s refusal to grant the then Chief Minister of Perak, Nizar Jamaluddin to dissolve the State Assembly in 2008 and instead asked Nizar to step down) while another interpretation and a more popular one because you know, it’s in the law books, is that the Malay royals are bound by the Constitution on what they can or cannot do. The Malay Rulers may have special privileges and rights that are not enjoyed by the rest of the nation but they must still live within those rights. It is when they are seen to be overstepping those rights that people start grumbling.
As the subtitle of the book suggests, Malaysia needs to be governed according to the Constitution in which the Palace has a part to play but there has to be a clear distinction between the Palace and His Majesty’s Government. The Rulers’ insistence in involving themselves in business and local politics is one reason Malaysian politics is in such a mess right now. The gist of Ampun Tuanku is not so much a criticism of the present conduct of the Malay rulers but rather a clarion call for common sense.