SPOTLIGHT ON THE MALAY SULTANATE INSTITUTION


The Daulat Tuanku colloquium organised by the Pahang State Museum Corporation was held at Kompleks Muzium Diraja Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah.

Conference highlights how the nobility shaped the monarchy system

THE Malaysian monarchy has been in the spotlight recently with the installation of the 17th current Yang di-Pertuan Agong but the unique system itself has gone through changes over time.

‘In the pre-colonial era, the Malay sultanates practised centralised absolute governance, or absolutism,’ according to Distinguished Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin from UKM.‘In the pre-colonial era, the Malay sultanates practised centralised absolute governance, or absolutism,’ according to Distinguished Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin from UKM.

According to Distinguished Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies, the monarchy could be seen as having evolved through three eras – absolutism, colonialism and federalism.

“In the pre-colonial era, the leadership system of the Malay sultanates were identical in that they practised centralised absolute governance, or absolutism.

“From the historical side, there are sultanates that existed for centuries and there are also some which had a short life.

“Nearly all of these sultanates unravelled during the colonial era, especially in Indonesia, while there are some which continue to exist but went through a change in power arrangement, such as in Tanah Melayu,” Shamsul said in his keynote speech at the recent Daulat Tuanku colloquium in Kuantan.

Prof Dr Shamsul added that colonialism as a ruling ideology introduced modernisation through the introduction of science and technology, scientific administration and capitalist economic system.

“This also changed the traditional leadership structure. In the colonial era, the once separated Malay sultanates were slowly unified within a century by the British under the federalism system as enshrined in the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948,” he said.

Prof Dr Shamsul said the post-colonial Malay sultanate institution and the Malay traditional leadership under the federalism system had some space in autonomy, in terms of customs and religion as well as land ownership under each state’s sultanate institution.

The two-day colloquium organised by the Pahang State Museum Corporation featured talks by scholars and academics which explored the traditional leadership in the Malay sultanate institution.

‘We want to know the role the nobility played in shaping the monarchy system here,’ said Pahang State Museum Corporation director Datuk Ahmad Farid Abd Jalal on the colloquium.‘We want to know the role the nobility played in shaping the monarchy system here,’ said Pahang State Museum Corporation director Datuk Ahmad Farid Abd Jalal on the colloquium.

Corporation director Datuk Ahmad Farid Abd Jalal said the colloquium brought together scholars to debate and explain to the public the history, roles, duties and contributions of the nobility as a component of the traditional leadership in the Malay sultanate institution.

“We want to know the role the nobility played in shaping the monarchy system here. Ever since independence, we hardly see the role of the nobility as civil servants have filled up that space,” he said.

Ahmad Farid also said the institution of the Malaysian monarchy should have an appropriate place in the discourse as it has an important role in providing check and balance in an often controversial political landscape.

The first day of the event also featured talks by Associate Prof Datuk Dr Wan Ahmad Fauzi Wan Husain, Dr Mardiana Nordin, Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Pahang Datuk Seri Wan Abdul Wahid Wan Hassan, Hayati Adnan, Dr Ibrahim Bakar, Dr Jelani Harun, Orang Besar Enam Belas Perak Toh Indera Jaya Datuk Ishak Mohamed and Datuk Badli Shah Alauddin.

On the second day, Dr Mohammed Safaruddin Ismail, Dr Hazman Hassan, Prof Datuk Dr Mohamed Anwar Omar Din, Mohd Zulfadli Md Maarof, Dr Ahmad Farhan Abdullah @ Zakaria, Dr Shamsuddin Ahmad and Prof Dr Syed Muhammad Khairudin Aljunied delivered their talks.

Most of the topics were on the roles of the nobility in various Malay sultanates.

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