‘Rulers just exercising their rights’

  • Nation
  • Friday, 04 Apr 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: The recent show of power by the palace in Perak and Terengganu should not be seen as an intervention, as long as the provisions in the constitution are observed, panellists in a forum said.

The forum entitled Interventionist Monarchs: A Complement or A Challenge to Democracy? saw five speakers citing the incident of the appointments of Mentris Besar in the two states as examples to debate the role of the monarch.

PAS think-tank head Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad said in the recent incidents in the two states, the rulers were merely exercising their rights and using their prerogatives.

He said it was not wrong for the monarch to intervene if the role was provided for by the constitution.

“The significance of the (March 8) general election is the empowerment of the monarch. They have realised that they too had been marginalised. Now they are out to assume their role,” he said.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Dr Syed Husin Ali, however, left it to the audience to decide on the role of the monarch.

He said a ruler should be on a higher moral ground when making decisions and exercising the power of the monarchy.

He also said a ruler should not condone a corrupt state government.

Constitutional lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said everyone must accept that the state ruler, the Sultan, has a role to play.

He said the Sultan could be a ruler with opinions if he chose to be so.

As in the case of the appointment of Mentris Besar in the two states, Malik said, it was not wrong for the rulers to exercise their power; it did not mean that the rulers could not do so just because no ruler had done it before.

Two other speakers were DAP MP for Puchong Gobind Singh Deo and International Islamic University law lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari.

The two-hour forum was held at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall here on Wednesday night.

It was organised by Suaram and chaired by Wong Chin Huat, a member of the Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform.

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