In a constitutional monarchy, the constitution is supreme
COMMENT | In English, a male monarch is called “king”, in Arabic “malik“, in German “konig“, in Japanese “tenno“and in Danish”konge”.
Whether we are king, konig, malik, tenno, Where konge, almost all officially recognized kings and queens of the twenty-first century are constitutional monarchs.
There are also hundreds, if not thousands, of unofficial monarchs around the world. These are people who lost their thrones and kingdoms when the people decided to abolish the monarchy, the latest being the King of Nepal in 2008.
I am invited to discuss this issue again in light of the controversy surrounding the decision of the PAS Kelantan government to ban the Yang di-Pertuan Agong photo from hanging in state government offices and premises. . It was later quashed after widespread conviction.
I am also alarmed by the tendency of a handful of princes to stray into the realm of ordinary people by making politically charged statements against the elected government. I think it is a dangerous game to play.
It should always be remembered that constitutional monarchs are governed by the law of the land, in which the constitution is supreme.
No one, not even monarchs, is above the law. The king and the rulers of the state are immune from prosecution only in the performance of their prescribed official functions.
The constitution is supreme
Unlike their subjects, monarchs are apolitical and above politics. They do not get involved in the vagaries of politics.
Monarchs are only immune from prosecution in the performance of their official duties. Their family members are not.
This is why in Europe princes and princesses are often tried in court for criminal offenses and must publicly apologize if they stray into the domain of the people.
Only the malik of Saudi Arabia and the Sultan of Brunei (below) are absolute monarchs where everything in their kingdoms, including the dignity of their people and the wealth of their lands, is theirs.
The rest of the monarchs are not. Even the sacred king of Thailand is not an absolute ruler. He is still nominally a constitutional monarch, but he is protected and isolated by the harsh law of lese majesty of his kingdom.
Our unique monarchy
We too are a constitutional monarchy. But unlike other constitutional monarchies, we are also a federation of many states.
As such, we do not have one, but several monarchs. We have nine state leaders. Seven are called sultan, one yam tuan besar (Negeri Sembilan) and the other raja (Perlis).
Among them, they choose by five-year rotation a Supreme King whom we call the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. So in all we have 10 monarchs in a country of 32 million.
We have no problem with this. We hold our monarchs in high regard. We appreciate the regal pomp and pageantry and are ready to endure their processions of cars that stop traffic.
According to modern lore, it seems that some tight-fisted people of all races and creeds even lobbied and paid a lot of money to get honorary titles from monarchs.
And don’t forget the taxpayers. They spend hundreds of millions of ringgits every year to keep our monarchs warm and safe on the “takhta”(Throne) in glittering palaces. A royal palace is said to cost RM 1 billion.
And in our national anthem, “Negaraku”, we even start a prayer for our king:
Selamat bertakhta. “
In English, it means: “Blessings of happiness given by God, may our King reign in peace.”
So, as I have said many times, God’s blessing of happiness to our King is conditional on His Majesty being limited to “takhta” (throne).
In an article on the topic of constitutional monarchy posted on this blog, I went on to say that by praying for God’s blessing, we are not saying that our king can reign in peace in the meeting room, or in the forest in search of wood to harvest. and minerals to be extracted.
What I meant is that our king and our rulers should only be concerned with their official prescribed duties, and not be involved in business and compete with the rakyat.
This article and a precedent on royal spending resulted in numerous police reports against me for alleged sedition. Since then, I have visited the Federal Police Headquarters in Bukit Aman twice to have my statements recorded.
The wall hhear
We are now living in the Internet age where the walls can hear, the ceiling can see, and the floor can speak. Nothing is secret or sacred anymore – not even what happens in the bedrooms or in a land far, far away.
It is therefore very precarious for any leader and his “royal” menteri besar to assume that what happens at the weekly hearing and the exco meeting is a secret.
The weaker or more hated a menteri besar, the more the “rahsiaOf the exco meeting would spill out.
That is why it is important to have a credible, intelligent and trustworthy person as a menteri besar.
A menteri besar is accountable to the people for his state and to the prime minister who recommended his appointment. Unfortunately, this is not the case with all besar menteris.
As for the princes who feel that the people do not respect them enough, or think that they can freely use social networks to castigate the elected government, my message is simple: get off your royal perch and do the rope of Muhammad Ali. dope in the political arena.
Why not? The late Tunku Abdul Rahman of Kedah entered the political arena and became the country’s first and most beloved prime minister. The same was true of the late Tunku Abdullah Tuanku Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan.
We also have Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar from Pahang and, still very political, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah from Kelantan.
The French people got rid of King Louis XVI, not because of Robespierre’s eloquence, but because when they had no bread to eat, their queen, Marie-Antoinette, allegedly told them to eat. cake – a case of disconnected monarchy.
Most recently – in 2008 – the Nepalese people gave King Gyanendra two weeks to leave the throne and declared themselves a republic after members of the royal family murdered each other and the country descended into anarchy.
If our monarchs are unwilling to be responsible for extreme government action in an extraordinary circumstance like war, we can always amend the constitution so that they can be exempted from being part of such action.
Otherwise, we must recognize the legislative and executive powers of the elected government.
Hopefully, as evergreen rocker Ramli Sarip puts it, “Sejarah mengajar kita menjadi lebih dewasa– history teaches us to be more mature.
A KADIR JASIN is a seasoned journalist and media and communications advisor to the Prime Minister.
The views expressed here are those of the author / contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Malaysiakini.