Archive for October 28th, 2009





It’s not always easy to handle royal matters in the Malaysian system of parliamentary democracy where the Malay Rulers play more than a ceremonial role in  the system of  constitutional monarchy.

…Under  Article 32 of the Federal Constitution, as Head of State, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong takes precedence over all persons in the Federation. He serves as the symbol of democratic rule and national solidarity and is revered as protector of the Islamic faith. The Constitution provides that he shall not be liable to any proceedings whatsoever in any court except in a special court established under the Constitution. The Raja Permaisuri Agong, the King’s consort, comes next in the order of precedence.

While the Constitution gives the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong wide powers with prescribed roles and functions in all three branches of the Government, it also provides for the country’s Paramount Ruler to act on the advice of the Prime Minister in all matters concerning national interest. Parliament convenes at his pleasure and cannot be dissolved without his consent. Indeed he is one of the three components of Parliament, the other two being the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) and the Dewan Negara (Senate). Bills passed by Parliament do not become law until he grants his assent. If the situation warrants it he may, on the advice of the Prime Minister, declare a state of emergency and suspend Parliament…

…At the State level the Head of State is the Sultan (Yang Di-Pertuan Besar in Negeri Sembilan and Raja in Perlis). or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri in states that are not under the Malay Rulers. The Menteri Besar heads the State Government, except in Penang, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak which are headed by the Ketua Menteri (Chief Minister).

Under the practice of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, the power of the people is exercised through Parliament with executive powers lying with the Cabinet. For any act of Government to be exercised the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong receives the advice of the Prime Minister, the Minister in charge or other relevant authorities…

*excerpt from THE KING, THE MAN (2006)

It’s not easy having to accomodate the adat and daulat of the nine Malay Rulers and the customs and traditions of the four states under the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri, each with its own idiosyncratic rituals and protocol. As head of Islam in their respective states, the nine Malay Rulers play a significant role in consolidating the many aspects of the Faith, including its practices.

The relationship between the Menteri Besar and the Sultan/Raja/Yang di-Pertuan Besar and the Royal House is therefore of the utmost importance in ensuring that matters of state and royal affairs are executed smoothly and amicably. For if the relationship is not smooth or amicable, there will arise tensions and pretensions!

Perhaps official matters are easier to handle than personal ones as protocol and government procedures fall under strict regulatory practices and there are clear guidelines to ensure there are no abuses or shortcomings in the state ethics, etiquette and decorum.

Handling the personal idiosyncracies and ethical standards of both the Ruler and his chief minister is more difficult. This is where slip-ups and errors of judgement may occur! This is where the Ruler and his chief minister may not see eye to eye and the relationship is strained!

What if the State Ruler and his family want  to undertake certain things like acquiring land or a business which are not within the State Government’s jurisdiction to approve? What if  H.H. wants to confer the state awards on his birthday on people whom the State Government committee find unsuitable? Clearly some dispute will arise and each side will perceive the other as being unreasonable and overstepping their line of duty.

Therefore, the rakyat’s pledge of loyalty to royalty must be reciprocated by the pledge of loyalty by royalty – that is, loyalty to the customs and traditions of Islam  and the laws of the land which govern the rakyat’s lives whether our blood is red or blue, black  or white!

Attached to this mutual loyalty is mutual respect! To gain the respect of the rakyat, the Malay Rulers must demonstrate the highest standards of conduct and behaviour. The rakyat in turn must show the highest regard for the Malay Rulers and the government.

At the heart of the Malay Muslim world is Islam’s tenets and teachings to uphold honesty and truthfulness, justice and fairness, integrity and honour! The government, the country’s laws and good governance are only the formal aspects of life! The same principles apply in our daily lives!

October 2009