AS Malaysia’s head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is ascribed duties to perform during his five-year reign.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s duties and roles cover the executive, legislative and judiciary, the three branches of the Government which are stipulated in the Federal Constitution.
In a write-up on the constitutional monarchy in the country, Universiti Malaya Emeritus Professor of Law Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi said that as the formal head of the executive branch, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is also conferred with “a vast array of powers in his office” by the country’s constitution.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Being the country’s supreme head, he is also tasked with appointing the Prime Minister, the ministers and deputy ministers and the attorney-general.
He also appoints the chief justice, Court of Appeal president, chief judge of Malaya, chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court judges. He also commissions Malaysian ambassadors and high commissioners for their duties abroad.
His Majesty also has the powers to grant pardons in respect of all offences which have been tried by court-martial and all offences in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan and Putrajaya. Besides being the Armed Forces supreme commander, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is also the head of Islamic affairs for his own state as well as states that do not have a Ruler, namely Malacca, Penang, the Federal Territories, Sabah and Sarawak.
Most of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s powers are not discretionary. They are not based on his personal preference or wishes as the custom goes in constitutional monarchies around the world.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong exercises his powers based on the advice of the Prime Minister.
“However, despite His Majesty’s duty to act on advice, the King is not a mouthpiece of his advisers.
“He has a right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn,” wrote Dr Shad.
Under Article 40(1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may ask for any information in the possession of the Cabinet and that information cannot be withheld from him despite the Official Secrets Act.
“He may temper the counsel of his advisers and offer guidance from his own fund of experience,” added Dr Shad.
In the oath taken by a new Yang di-Pertuan Agong at his installation, he will promise to faithfully perform his duties in the administration of the country based on Malaysia’s law and constitution and to protect the Islamic religion. — By Hanis Zainal