States need sustainable ties with Federal government

Johor Menteri Besar Dr Sahruddin Jamal (left) with former menteri besar Datuk Osman Sapian at the handing over of duty ceremony at the Menteri Besar’s office in Kota Iskandar, Iskandar Puteri, Johor on April 15. (Pic by NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM)

THE politico-administrative order for stability, peace and progress in all states of the Federation of Malaysia, formulated on the principle of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, is specified in the Federal Constitution.

Article 1 (2) of the Constitution states: Malaysia is a federation of 13 states. Article 39-42 details the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Article 73-91 explains the relationship of the various states with the federal government. Among others, these provisions regulate “inconsistencies between federal and state laws” (Article 75); “obligation of states towards the Federation” (Article 81); and “acquisition of land for federal purposes” (Article 83).

These articles are further enhanced by several schedules. The Fifth Schedule is about “the Conference of Rulers”; the Eight Schedule explains “Provisions to be inserted in state constitutions”; the Ninth Schedule contains federal and state “Legislative Lists”; and the Tenth Schedule specifies “grants and sources of revenue assigned to states”.

These articles and schedules, crafted by the Reid Commission in early 1957, which form the fundamental politico-administrative order of states and the federal government, became part of the Federal Constitution with the blessings of all the Malay rulers, Queen of England, British parliament, Malayan Federal Legislature, and the various state assemblies in Malaya.

The above order was also debated, vetted, articulated and agreed upon by all stakeholders, including the general Malayan population, numerous religious and race organisations, as well as national political parties.

The inclusion of this order was legitimised by the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957, passed by the British parliament on July 31, 1957, which incorporated nine Malay states as well as Penang and Melaka into the Federation of Malaya.

Clause (1) of the Act, states: “… the approval of parliament is hereby given to the conclusion between Her Majesty and the rulers of the Malay states of such agreement as appears to Her Majesty to be expedient for the establishment of the Federation of Malaya as an independent sovereign country…”

Clause (2) (a) of this Act adds: “Any such agreement as aforesaid may make provision for the formation of the Malay states and of the Settlements of Penang and Melaka into a new independent Federation of States under a Federal Constitution …”

The order for Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore was incorporated into the Federal Constitution through the formation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963. Singapore, however, was separated from the Malaysia federation on Aug 9, 1965.

Based on the above, it is imperative for all state governments to establish sustainable relations with the federal government, in the interests of their stakeholders, namely the Malay rulers, the ruling party, the citizens, the Malaysian parliament and the state assemblies.

A recent testimony to this was reflected in the appointment of Dr Sahruddin Jamal as Johor’s new menteri besar, replacing Datuk Osman Sapian who resigned on April 8.

The royal consent given to this appointment by Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar was to reinvigorate the state’s royalty-polity strategic partnership based on the principle of constitutional reciprocity.

This leadership change was also to enhance the state government’s competency, professionalism and effectiveness; to accelerate the state’s socioeconomic development and industrial progress; and to strengthen its security management and law enforcement.

This is due to the fact that Johor is an important frontier state with numerous challenges in protecting Malaysia-Singapore interdependency in trade, economy and security.

The change is equally important because Johor, which recorded a growth rate of 6.2 per cent in 2017, is among the biggest contributors to Malaysia’s gross domestic product, ranking fourth after Selangor, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, and Sarawak.

It is also because Johor is an emerging industrial hub for “oil and gas, bio-economy, green technology, halal-based products, hospitality, services and logistics”. Up to December 2017, RM253 billion had been invested in Iskandar Malaysia, the state’s prominent growth centre.

Johor also requires competent leaders to transform it into a “new economic powerhouse in the southern region”. This is because economic progress and political stability are essential ingredients of national security.

As such, it was wise for the Johor sultan to advise Dr Sahruddin to carry out his duty as menteri besar, “with honesty, sincerity and trust” in the interests of Johor, its people and economic prosperity.

It was also pertinent for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, to suggest the formation of the Johor Economic Council to assist in the management of the state’s economic development and industrial progress.

By Datuk Dr Ruhanie Ahmad.

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