Archive for the ‘Institution of Monarchy’ Category

Shafie gets majority support

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah State Legislative Assembly passed a vote of confidence on Warisan President Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, Monday, endorsing him as the new Chief Minister.

It was an unanimous approval by 43 members, including four Nominated Assemblymen.

The confidence motion on Mohd Shafie was tabled by Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew, who is also State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister in a special sitting. It was seconded by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Jaujan Sambakong, who is also State Local Government and Housing Minister.

In tabling the motion, Christina said the state government led by Warisan had the backing of 37 assemblymen following the decision by a number of Upko and Umno representatives to switch their support to Mohd Shafie.

Four assemblymen Datuk Abidin Madingkir (Paginatan), Phoong Jin Zhe (Luyang), Datuk Masiung Banah (Kuamut) and Jamawi Jaafar (Kemabong) debated the motion before Speaker Datuk Syed Abas Syed Ali announced the outcome.

“Congratulations to Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah Tun Juhar Mahiruddin for carrying out his responsibility in all fairness, in accordance with Article 6(3) of the Sabah Constitution, to swear in Mohd Shafie as Sabah Chief Minister on May 12, 2018,” Christina said.

She called on Sabah’s assemblymen to support Mohd Shafie who had obtained the majority vote and mandate to lead the state government.

It was unfair to the people in Sabah, she said, if polemics against the state leadership were allowed to persist and unsettle the state government.

“The voice of the people who desire change should be respected. Chief Minister Mohd Shafie had obtained a clear and strong mandate from the people. In return he will surely endeavour to serve the people to the best of his ability,” she said.

She said Mohd Shafie’s appointment as chief minister was appropriate considering his vast experience in politics and in the government including as a federal minister for nine years. The assembly has 60 elected members while the Sabah constitution allows the governor to appoint not more than six nominated members.

The May 9 general election ended in a hung assembly with the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Parti Warisan Sabah-led alliance both winning 29 seats. The remaining two seats went to Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Star) led by its president Jeffrey Kitingan.

Star threw its support behind BN, giving them a majority 31 seats in the 60-member assembly, and state BN chairman Musa Aman was sworn in as chief minister.

However, subsequent defections from Umno and Upko swung the majority to the Warisan-led alliance, and Warisan president Shafie Apdal took the oath as chief minister.

Musa has challenged Shafie’s appointment in court.

Sabah Umno treasurer Hajiji Mohd Noor and Jeffrey earlier said the assemblymen elected under the BN ticket and Star would boycott the sitting which they claimed was illegal.

At the start of Monday’s sitting at 10.30am, the 35 representatives from Warisan and its partners DAP, PKR and Upko and the four nominated assemblymen were sworn in before speaker Syed Abbas Syed Ali.

The four nominated assemblymen were Upko acting president and Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau, DAP state chairman Stephen Wong, Warisan Secretary-General Loretto Padua Jr and Warisan Treasurer Terence Siambun.

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Respecting letter and spirit of the Constitution.

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

CONSTITUTIONALISM requires respect for the letter and spirit of the Constitution by citizens as well as the institutions of the state, especially the latter. It is sad to note that in the last few months, constitutionalism and democracy took a battering at the hands of some whose job it is to protect and defend the basic charter.

Dirtiest election: The GE14 result was an exhilarating development for democracy in Malaysia. At the same time, GE14 was the dirtiest of all elections since Merdeka. The Registrar of Societies turned a blind eye towards Umno’s violation of its own Constitution. She refused to register the Pakatan Harapan coalition and deregistered Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

Under Article 114(2), the Election Commission must enjoy public confidence. Instead, it resorted to massive gerrymandering and malapportionment, and ignored citizens’ complaints. It defiled Opposition billboards. A Rantau state seat candidate was refused entry into the nomination centre. Tian Chua was declared disqualified. During the run-up to the election, blatant acts of bribery by both sides went uncensured.

Tian Chua’s attempt to seek judicial review was turned down by the High Court. All other court cases to challenge the misconduct of the EC failed. The EC delayed the issuance of many results where the then Opposition was winning. In several recounts, Barisan Nasional emerged triumphant. The EC submitted the official results to the King only on the afternoon of May 10.

AG’s appointment: The Attorney General is the ruling government’s solicitor and confidant. He must be chosen by the political executive and not the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Conference of Rulers. Article 145 mandates that “the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint a person who is qualified to be a judge of the federal court to be the Attorney General for the federation”. The King can counsel and delay but if the PM insists on his nominee, the monarch is bound by advice in accordance with Article 40(1) and (1A).

Role of Conference of Rulers: Many appointments, like those of judges, have to be referred to the Conference of Rulers for consultation but the appointment of Cabinet ministers and the Attorney General has no such consultation requirement. However, under powers vested by Article 38(2), the Conference may deliberate on any matter it thinks fit, including the suitability of the Attorney General. Even if this is so, the Conference only deliberates and advises. It does not decide. The choice of the Prime Minister is binding on the King.

AG’s race and religion: There is no prescription in the Constitution of the AG’s race, religion, region or gender. In the past, we have had non-Muslim AGs. Except in relation to the Sultans, the Malay regiment and the Mentris Besar in the nine Malay states, the Constitution is blind to race and colour. Under Articles 8(1), 8(2) and 136, the rule of equality before the law applies.

The argument by some that as the King is the head of the religion of Islam, therefore the AG must be a Muslim, is a thinly disguised attempt to misuse Islam to deprive non-Malays and non-Muslims of any place in the corridors of power. Contrary to what some religious preachers preach, Islam is perfectly capable of inclusiveness and such twisted arguments bring Islam a bad name.

We have had two non-Muslim AGs before: Thomas Vernor Alexander Brodie (1955-59) and Cecil M. Sheridan (1959-63). Even the Muslim ones were not experts in Islam and they relied on their 1,800-strong team to draft opinions and laws on all matters including the syariah. As to counselling the King on matters of Islam, Article 3(5) provides that Parliament may by law constitute a Council to advise the King in matters relating to Islam. A parliamentary initiative on this matter to legalise institutions like the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and define their jurisdiction is necessary. As to prosecution, Article 145(3) excludes the Syariah courts from the AG’s jurisdiction.

Conventions: A cunning argument has been proffered that a convention exists that all top positions must be occupied by Muslims. No such convention exists. In any case, conventions cannot violate the explicit provisions of Articles 8 and 136. Conventions exist to fill gaps in the law, not to trump the law.

AG and Parliament: Pakatan’s undertaking that the AG must be answerable to Parliament is achievable by appointing the new AG as one of the 44 appointed Senators.

AG and criminal law: Opinions have been expressed that the AG must be a criminal litigator. Tommy Thomas is an expert in constitutional law. With all due respect, constitutional law and criminal law overlap. The Constitution’s Article 5 on personal liberty, Article 7(1) on retrospective criminal laws, Article 7(2) on double jeopardy, and Articles 149-151 on subversion and emergency, are intimately connected with the criminal process.

In any case, the Pakatan government intends to separate the AG from the public prosecutor. The newly appointed AG will preside over this magnificent transformation. His expertise in constitutional law may reverse the trend of the last few decades where judges, officers of the AG’s Chambers, the police, politicians and administrators sidestep the imperatives of the Constitution.

If the new AG can restore the Constitution to the pedestal on which it was placed when Malaya began its tryst with destiny, if he can advise his officers to regard our Constitution as our chart and compass and sail and anchor, he will have the gratitude of a large part of the citizenry.

By Shad Saleem Faruqi
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Governance: Ideals of democracy

Sunday, May 27th, 2018
Parliament is a crucial part of the democratic process as it passes laws that are implemented by the executive, and counter-balanced by the judiciary that interprets these laws. FILE PIC

THE definition of democracy as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not always realised. For democracy everywhere is tainted by partisan political and corporate interests.

Democracy does not always practise equality, for the system thrives on inequality, with the elites controlling the masses through the practise of capitalist economy in which the masses work for wages while the capitalist class (elites) controls the means of production.

A viable and ideal democratic system focuses on the wellbeing of the people, as well as allowing and encouraging profit-oriented private initiatives and enterprises. While the capitalist economy offers opportunities to accumulate wealth, it should also ensure an equitable distribution of wealth by addressing the economic plight of the lower-rung masses.

It should also discourage the unrestrained accumulation of wealth that negates its equitable distribution.

A viable democratic system that is based on the ethical principles of accountability and integrity would ameliorate the inequality of income and other opportunities for the wellbeing of the people.

But a democratic system is only as good as the people who run it, for human weaknesses influence the character of the governance. Thus, the integrity of the instruments of governance that are created to serve the people will depend on the ethical and moral bent of the authorities.

As a result, there are various manifestations of democratic governance, which vary from those that are closely aligned to the democratic principles to serve the people to those that exhibit elements of feudalism, totalitarianism or dictatorship.

A proper democratic system incorporates the three major divisions of governance: legislature, judiciary and executive. These are separate and independent entities that act as checks and balances.

In reality, the separation is often breached, especially in Third World developing democracies. First-World democracies respect this separation of governance and each branch is administered by people of integrity and accountability.

And the legislature or Parliament is the crucial and integral part of the democratic process for it passes laws that are implemented by the executive and counter-balanced by the judiciary, which interprets these laws. The designation of parliamentary democracy testifies to its singular importance in a democracy.

It is an august house that supersedes the executive and judiciary, and a place in which the peoples’ representatives concern themselves with matters that address the needs and wellbeing of the people.

It is also a place where the voices of the people — their grievances and grouses — are given hearing through elected representatives, as well as to redress any malfeasance.

Besides Parliament, the media, in the spirit of freedom of expression, plays a crucial part in highlighting the people’s grievances.

It must be independent and robust to report without fear or favour. And journalistic integrity must not be sacrificed for partisan interests.

There should not be any legislative constraint that curbs freedom of speech. And most important is the people’s right to choose a government through free elections.

This right is the core expression of democracy of the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

In the final analysis, a democracy is an organisational system, an algorithm that sets out the procedure to an orderly, safe and secure existence that regulates human (and even flora and fauna) interaction and engagement in a sane and respectful manner, without infringing on individual and communal rights.

However, the algorithmic expressions of democracy are dependent on the nature and character of those who manage and input the system.

Democratic expressions vary according to the cultural milieu, which may reflect vestiges of former systems of governance, such as feudalism, socialism, communism or dictatorships.


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Pressing need for separation of powers, says PM [NSTTV]

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said as a democratic nation, there must be separation of powers between the legislative, judicial and executive. (Pix by MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said as a democratic nation, there must be separation of powers between the legislative, judicial and executive.

Speaking to civil servants here, this morning, the prime minister said the separation of powers was paramount to have the check-and-balance system in place.

Failure to do so, the prime minister warned that undesired things would happen.

“If there is no separation of powers with one taking control over others, there will be no (efforts) to criticise or reprimand things that are against the country’s law,” he added.

The prime minister also said with a clean government, Malaysia could face all challenges.

In this respect, Dr Mahathir called on all civil servants to give their undivided support to him as long as his actions do not contravene with the law.

He also said possible changes were being thoroughly studied now.

But, Dr Mahathir said it was too soon to disclose what they would be as he was still gathering all information.

The prime minister expressed his hope that changes could be made without raising costs or creating new institutions.

“We should optimise the existing institutions,” he said.

Dr Mahathir had his first official meeting with civil servants today after he was sworn in as the country’s seventh Prime Minister following Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) win in the 14th General Election (GE14).

By NST Team.

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Evolving role of the monarchs

Sunday, December 31st, 2017
The Conference of Rulers in session in October. Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy is unique in that it has nine hereditary rulers, each representing a state, and they elect among themselves a brother ruler to serve as the king for a period of five years. BERNAMA PI

MONARCHY as a form of absolutism in governance is known by a variety of names from the time of its inception.

In a primitive setup, the functions of absolutism (monarchy) was wielded by the Shaman or the head of the clan.

As communal society evolved, that function took on new forms and names, such as the “High Priest” and “The Oracle”, who held absolute power for he was the judge, jury and executioner. Such ancient forms of governance usually had a spiritual aura to back their actions, giving them a kind of divine status.

In short, none dared challenge them for fear of retribution from the spirits.

As man gained knowledge, their communal organisation evolved and became structured with definite guidelines for social, cultural and spiritual engagements. The extent of the involvement of the masses in having a free will to determine their lifestyle and existence and the nature of control over them indicated the form of governance. It ranged from dictatorship, monarchy, oligarchy to democracy.

Dictatorship is rule by one individual who manipulates the mechanism of governance to remain in power and he is not accountable for his actions.

Peoples’ lives are closely regulated and monitored in such a system to conform to the dictates of the leadership. Religion is often used to maintain and legitimise such a system.

In an oligarchy, an elite group, whether a rich family dynasty, religious groups, military or rich traders, controls the state or country.

Such a system is usually tyrannical and oppressive to keep the masses in line.

Monarchy is a governance by a royal family, usually a dynasty with the patriarch as the monarch.

The extent of their control designates the nature of the different monarchies.

In a crowned republic, the power of the monarch is symbolic, while he has complete autocratic control in an absolute monarchy. In a constitutional monarchy, his power is restricted.

Democracy had its roots in the Greek city states around the 5th century BC. But, it was not a full-fledged democracy as women were not allowed to vote and an elite class held sway over governance.

Western-style democracy originated in classical Athens and the Roman Republic. But, before the 2nd century BC, the Roman emperors were absolute monarchs.

Monarchy was the most common form of government in Europe until the 19th century, when most of these countries converted to constitutional monarchy.

Before the advent of colonialism, most Southeast Asian countries were absolute monarchies that practised feudalism of governance, which divided the people mainly into nobility, landed proprietor and peasant.

In this region, absolute monarchy was based on the concept of Devaraja, in which the monarch was regarded as a demi-god or was bestowed with divine powers. He reigned supreme and exercised absolute power over the people and his lands, as well as over all matters of governance.

The people existed at the behest and pleasure of the monarch, whose authority was not restricted by any written laws, legislature or customs.

Such a form of governance, which existed in Malaysia, is documented in historical records, lore, legends and literary works, such as Hikayat Raja BersiongHikayat Merong Mahawangsa and in all Mak Yong stories.

However, this concept of absolutism as portrayed in these literary, dramatic and historical records varies from one of belligerence to a benign entity.

With the advent of colonialism in Tanah Melayu, the powers and authority of the rajas and sultans were gradually eroded by the British.

In the end, the royals were only left with the authority over religious and customary affairs, while other aspects of governance became the privy of the British colonial government to be administered by the governor general and his residents.

After World War 2, the British established the Malayan Union with the consensus of the rajas and sultans, but was opposed by Malays led by Datuk Onn Jaafar because the sultans and rajas would have lost all powers and authority on matters of state, save for religious and customary matters.

The British relented after seeing the strong opposition from Malays and replaced the Malayan Union with the Federation of Malaya with amendments to the authority of the royals who now have to be informed and consulted over matters of state.

After independence, the role of the British government was taken over by the political party in power within the context of parliamentary democracy, in which Parliament, which constitutes elected representatives that represent the people, reigns supreme on all matters of governance. And the instrument that regulates the workings of governance is the Constitution that serves as a moral and ethical guide to the matrix of individual and societal relations and engagements underlined by the principles of democracy.

And within the framework of parliamentary democracy is embedded the role of the constitutional monarchs, whose powers are circumscribed, legally bound by a constitution or legislature.

However, the status quo of the sultans and rajas remains enshrined in the Constitution as constitutional monarchs, thus the constitutional monarchy.

Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy is unique in that it has nine hereditary rulers, each representing a state, and they elect among themselves a brother ruler to serve as the king of Malaysia for a period of five years in mainly a ceremonial role as the king cannot act unilaterally, but only on the advice of the prime minister.

According to the Constitution, the powers of governance is vested in the sitting prime minister and his cabinet, who are the peoples’ representatives.

As such, all political deliberations, engagements and dissensions are confined to the peoples’ representatives and the masses as monarchs are above politics.

This is to preserve and maintain the dignity of monarchs because political involvement is a two-way engagement that could result in unsavoury and unpleasant outcome.

In the nine states, each headed by a monarch, the governing authority are the menteris besar. All state matters, except religion and cultural affairs, are under the purview of the menteris besar and elected representatives who represent the will of the people.

Unlike the olden days of absolute monarchy when subjects lived at the behest and pleasure of monarchs, today they are masters of their destiny by electing representatives to represent them and to see to their welfare and wellbeing.

Monarchs are in no way involved in the people’s lives as contact between monarchs and the people are circumscribed and confined only to official royal functions.

This is done again to maintain the aura, dignity and regality of the institution of monarchy.

Even if political representatives are not governing the country as they should, monarchs have little leeway to caution them.

However, they could still register their displeasure through the Conference of Rulers on national matters.

Notwithstanding that, the authorities are not beholden to accommodate such caution from the Conference of Rulers. It is a one-way process in that monarchs must act on the advice of the prime minister and his cabinet.

Constitutionally, they do not serve as a system of checks and balances as the power and authority rest with the prime minister and his cabinet. But in times of dire need, the people may need to have recourse to their good office to caution, advice and even intervene in matters of national import that adversely affect the people. Monarchs form the last bastion of the people to redress their plight.


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King with a heart of gold

Friday, September 15th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Touched by the plight of an eight-year-old girl with epilepsy, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V immediately donated towards her surgery to treat a birth anomaly in her brain, which is causing her seizures.

Comptroller of the Royal House­hold Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Haji Ab Aziz said His Majesty wanted to help her parents as they cannot afford the medical fees.

Sultan Muhammad V was touched after reading a report by The Star on Sept 3 about Erinna Natashya Mohd Sohaimi, eight, who needs RM48,000 to undergo surgery tentatively scheduled for next month.

“His Majesty was concerned over the plight of the child, who suffers from epilepsy.

“After reading the story, His Majesty was moved to donate and help the child,” he said.

Wan Ahmad Dahlan, on behalf of the King, presented the generous donation to Star Media Group editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh at Istana Negara here yesterday.

Generous contribution: Wan Ahmad Dahlan presenting the donation to Goh at Istana Negara.

Generous contribution: Wan Ahmad Dahlan presenting the donation to Goh at Istana Negara.

Sultan Muhammad V, whose official birthday was celebrated on Sept 9, ascended the throne on Dec 13, 2016, as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Erinna, who developed epileptic seizures when she was eight months old, will undergo the surgery at Ara Damansara Medical Centre in Selangor.

Her father Mohd Sohaimi Shafie, 47, had contacted Star Founda­tion, the charitable arm of Star Media Group, for financial aid.

Sohaimi, who had to quit his job as a lorry driver to care for Erinna, has three other children aged 16 to 22, all of whom are still studying.

His wife works as an assistant at a kindergarten in Kedah.

On behalf of Star Foundation, Goh thanked the King for his kindness and generosity.

Compassionate Ruler: Sultan Muhammad V (right) presenting a zakat donation to an orphan during a breaking of fast event at Istana Negara in June. He has always demonstrated a caring heart for those in need, like Erinna. — Bernama

Compassionate Ruler: Sultan Muhammad V (right) presenting a zakat donation to an orphan during a breaking of fast event at Istana Negara in June. He has always demonstrated a caring heart for those in need, like Erinna. — Bernama

She also thanked all the donors who had contributed to the cause.

Star Foundation would like to remind donors to download and fill in the Medical Fund – Donation Form at­fund-programme/.

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Duty and his subjects came first for Tuanku Abdul Halim.

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: The most important things in his life were his responsibilities and his subjects.

That was why the late Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah always did his best to turn up at events that he was invited to, even when he felt unwell.

This was revealed by his granddaughter Raja Sarina Iskandar in her tribute to him.

He often said the words “duty (tanggungjawab)” and “citizens (rakyat)” while he was alive, she said.

“For Tok, whatever he did was for the beloved people.

“He always tried his best to turn up at events to which he was invited as a sign of appreciation and respect, although at times Tok felt weak and unwell, because he did not want to disappoint anyone,” she said.

It came to a point where his family members had to advise him not to strain himself, especially during his second term as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Tuanku Abdul Halim made history when he became King for the second time in 2012. He also reigned as King from 1970 to 1975.

Tuanku Abdul Halim ended his term as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong last December and was replaced by Kelantan Ruler Sultan Muhammad V.

Even when others tried to convince him to understand his limits as an ageing person, the 89-year-old told his granddaughter: “No. This is Tok’s duty.”

This is Raja Sarina’s second tribute to Tuanku Abdul Halim.

On Monday, she wrote that Kedah and Malaysia “have lost one of their greatest kings”.

The Kedah Ruler passed away at 2.30pm on Monday.

She said he was a King whose generosity extended beyond what was reported in the media.

Just like his father, she said, he believed that being a King brought with it a big responsibility.

“Quietly, he has sponsored the studies of several young people up to university level. Looking at his people succeed gave him great happiness,” she wrote on her Instagram page in Bahasa Malaysia yesterday.

Raja Sarina added that his love for Kedah could be likened to the love of a father.

“To him, Kedah was like a child that needed to be protected and supported until it could be independent and walk by itself.
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A ruler with a commoner’s heart

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017
Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Tuanku Hajah Haminah waving as they returned to Alor Star after completing his second term as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. (FILE PIC)

THERE I was, on the grand stage, face to face with this great man everyone loved, mentally giving my little head a pat.

I glanced a few metres away to my right to see the man I wanted so much to impress, giving his nod of approval.

The son of Tara Singh was being honoured by the Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah himself.

My school, the famous Sekolah Rendah Iskandar, had made all the preparations to greet the Ruler and everyone had been briefed on the protocols involved.

The year was 1979 and the Sultan had obliged to grace my school’s year-end prize-giving ceremony, where those who scored 5As in their Standard Five exams were feted.

The exams, which were then known as Ujian Penilaian, not only “determined” your future, but more importantly for us Kedahans, it decided if you were worthy of a place at the prestigious Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC).

“It’s 5As… or you can only dream of going to College (as SAHC was commonly known).”

These words had been drummed into me my entire primary school life.

However, I believe the family was more excited that the Sultan was there in person, more than me having aced the exams.

As I set to put my best foot forward in my euphoria, the protocols I was convinced were etched in my memory thanks to the endless rehearsals, chose to suddenly abandon me.

All I remembered was that I had to do something with my hands.

I didn’t know why the hall erupted into laughter, and my dad turning blue, as I clasped my hands to my chest and bobbled my head. The sense that I must have screwed up quickly crept in.

As I looked up to the King with my hands outstretched, I know that everything was going to be alright. My Tuanku’s eyes were sparkling with the kindest look and, at the same time, he wore the most sympathetic look on his face.

Immediately, I was awash with this nothing-else-mattered feeling, when he wished me a bright future ahead and tapped me on my head just to make sure I didn’t beat myself up too hard.

That was my first encounter with my Sultan, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.

Like most who who grew up in Alor Star, Tuanku Abdul Halim to us was an integral part of the people’s lives.

The celebrations that were held in conjunction with the Sultan’s birthday at the riverfront of Sungai Kedah, and cuts through the town centre, was an annual affair marked out on the calendar of most households.

Thousands would gather to take part and watch the parades but the highlight, without fail, would be the part when the Sultan, who never failed to join his people, mingle with his subjects.

This would not be the only occasion for the people of Kedah to get up close with their Sultan. Not many outside of Kedah knew that the grounds of Istana Anak Bukit, where he lived, used to be accessible to the people.


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Malay Rulers Protect People Against Usurpation – Sultan Nazrin

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 5 (Bernama) — The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah said the Malay rulers were in the best position to protect the interests of the people from being hit by ‘waves of power struggle’.

He said the Royal Institution was a continuation of tradition in maintaining the nation’s identity, a symbol of sovereignty which is the crown of the nation.

“The Malay Rulers are in the best position to protect the interests of the people,”he said at the ‘Memperkukuh Pasak Negara: Ke Arah Wasiat Lebih Tersurat’ or ‘Strengthening National Pillar: Towards A More Tangible Will’ Convention here today.

He said the basic things, especially those touching on Islam and the Malays which had been agreed upon during the enactment of the constitution, should not be traded for the purpose of achieving short-term political gains.

The fundamental principles should not be sacrificed in trying to protect any party, organisation or individuals.

“The fundamental principles touching on Islam and the Malays, should never be compromised.

“Whatever the excuses, whatever tricks there may be in achieving the short-term goals of any party, the fate of the ummah (Muslims) must not be put at stake today or in future, he said.

Sultan Nazrin Shah said that it was the responsibility of the rulers to observe, monitor and to have the courage to tick off those running the administration to ensure that they were transparent, sincere, accountable and honest in carrying out their responsibilities for the overall peace, prosperity and well-being of the nation.

He said the ruler was not merely there to fulfill the traditional functions of a constitutional monarchy or as a symbol of power in performing ceremonial tasks.

“The ruler is not just a rigid decorative monument, who is lifeless and with no soul. Rulers are not blind, deaf and dumb.

He said the honest views in relation to the Islamic religion, the national language, the unity of the people, freedom of the judiciary, corruption, abuse of power and various other issues arise with the intention to ensure the country remains stable and safe so that the people could live in peace and prosperity.

Sultan Nazrin said it was important for those who were in the position to advise the rulers to be sincere, wise, knowledgeable and truthful so that the ruler is not lulled into believing and being influenced by untruths.


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Restoring judicial power

Friday, July 28th, 2017
Legal balance and harmony is maintained in line with the doctrine of separation of powers because legislative power is vested in Parliament, while executive power is vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong acting upon advice. FILE PIC

WHEN our Federal Constitution came into force on Merdeka Day, Article 121 stated: “The judicial power of the Federation shall be vested in a Supreme Court and such inferior courts as may be provided by federal law.”

Legal balance and harmony was maintained in line with the doctrine of separation of powers because legislative power is vested in Parliament (Article 44), while executive power is vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong acting upon advice (Article 39).

The objective of this important constitutional doctrine (originally attributed to French political philosopher de Montesquieu) is that no single arm (organ) of the government shall completely dominate the other. However, absolute separation of powers does not exist here because some of our members of parliament are also, at the same time, members of the administration (in the executive branch of the government).

Subsequent events in our constitutional history saw an erosion of this judicial power. This is evident upon our reading of Article 121 as it stands today, where the important words “judicial power… shall be vested” are now painfully missing. In plain language, the three arms or organs of our government are no longer at par.

Members of the legal fraternity and the judiciary were recently reminded of this segment of our legal history when the Federal Court handed down its remarkable decision in a land acquisition case known as “Semenyih Jaya Sdn Bhd v Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Hulu Langat” on April 20. The facts of the case are summarised below.

The appellant company owned a piece of land in Hulu Langat, Selangor. In January 1997, the company commenced construction for its industrial project known as “Kajang 181 Park”. Part of the land was then acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1960 (Act 486) for the purpose of constructing the Kajang-Seremban Highway. The appellant was in due course awarded compensation totaling RM20,862,281.75 — representing the sum of RM17,627,400.00 (the value of the land acquired) and RM3,234,881.75 (compensation for the loss suffered from the termination of the project). Unhappy with the amount, the appellant referred the case to the High Court.

At the High Court, the appellant submitted that the compensation awarded was inadequate because the Land Administrator (respondent) failed to consider the appellant’s “other claims” — namely, loss of profits and the costs and expenses arising out of the termination of its commercial project. The appellant submitted that he should be compensated for loss of profits in respect of the sale of the 57 units in the project, which had been concluded when the acquisition took place.

After hearing the submission of both parties, the High Court held that the appellant was also entitled to receive an additional compensation of RM1.16 million “for severance and injurious affection”, but its other claims for compensation were dismissed. Aggrieved by this decision, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal but the appeal was dismissed. The appellant then sought leave to appeal to the Federal Court. Six questions of law were framed for the decision of the Federal Court.

For the purpose of this short commentary on the issue of judicial power, focus is made only on question No. 3, which concerns the constitutional validity of Section 40D of Act 486.

According to Tan Sri Zainun Ali (the Federal Court judge who delivered the 87-page judgment of the court), the issue was whether Section 40D “contravenes Article 121(1) of the Federal Constitution, which declares that judicial power to decide a dispute brought before the courts is vested in the courts” (paragraph 24).

Explaining the history of Act 486, Zainun said that originally (before 1984), the duty of assessors (under Section 42 of the act) is only to assist the judge in determining the amount of compensation, while the power to determine it remains vested in the judge. When Act A575 came into force (on Jan 20, 1984), Sections 40-42 of Act 486 were deleted, thus, completely removing the role of the assessors. The role of the assessors was, however, restored by Act A999, which came into force on March 1, 1998.

She added that when the revised Section 40D came into force in 1988, a “sea change” took place because the assessors are now empowered to decide on the amount of compensation, their decision becoming final and non-appealable. Their original role (merely to assist the judge) has been transformed, as they have become “fact finders and adjudicators”, effectively usurping the judicial power of the court.


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