Why we are in this sad state …

Of late, politicians have been referring to the king’s role in selecting the date for a general election. Both Padang Rengas MP Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz (Umno) and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang have said that it is the king who has the final say on the date.

Both are correct, however, it is the prime minister who first suggests the date or dates and, under the constitution, the king has to act on the advice of the prime minister. If at all these politicians and others want to influence the decision in selecting the date for the general election, it is the prime minister who needs to be won over. The king should be left out of the discussion.

The king’s role is clearly spelled out in the constitution and if he doesn’t know what that is he can easily consult with the Attorney-General to whom he has full access. Politicians do not have to crack their heads about the king or the sultans or royals about what they should do. The latter should be left out of all political discussions and negotiations because the constitution is very clear that the king and sultans are above politics.

But Malaysian politicians do not seem to practise it. I have said this earlier and I will repeat it here. Malaysian politicians prefer to wheel and deal rather than act according to the rule of law.

Johor is a fine example. Umno won with a super majority in the state but it is powerless even to get its own candidate for the position of menteri besar. The Johor Sultan overruled and selected his own candidate. With a super majority, Umno could have insisted on its candidate on the strength of the mandate the people gave it. With an Umno vice president as the prime minister (Ismail Sabri Yaakob), it could have brought the force of law to bear. But that didn’t happen.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi met with the Sultan and while we don’t know what actually transpired, Umno’s candidate was sidelined in favour of the Sultan’s. What can only be concluded is that the mandate of the people was sacrificed for the Sultan’s influence.

The important question to ask is whether the issue would have been resolved if Umno had followed the rule of law instead of “talking with” the Sultan. The reason why Umno, despite its majority, is powerless in Johor is because it courted the palace for political support. So, did PKR and the DAP in the Johor elections. As a result, the palace can assert its influence over the state government.

Would this have happened if politicians kept the royals out of politics? If politicians do not have any dealings with the king and sultans except what is permitted under the law, the royals won’t be involved in politics. They can only be involved in politics if politicians court them.

If politicians steered clear of wheeling and dealing outside the ambit of the law, we would also not be in the state Malaysia is in now. There would have been no Altantuya case, no IMDB, no Sheraton Moves, no Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister and no Ismail Sabri as the current prime minister!

The reason why we have an unelected illicit government legitimised by the opposition through the signing of the Memorandum of Understdanding is because Malaysian politicians prefer to wheel and deal and form pacts rather than follow the rule of law.

Stability for them is when no one in the pact upsets the boat. They don’t seem to understand that enforcing the rule of law automatically ensures stability because nobody can go against it; it’s the law. It’s the rule of law that ensures political stability not an agreement between scheming cohorts.

If government MPs don’t know how to operate according to democratic conventions and the rule of law, it is the Opposition’s job to hold them to the rule of law. But the opposition MPs too prefer to make pacts rather than enforce the rule of law, re: the MoU!

The solution to the current non-performing and non-delivering government is a general election. Under the rule of law, the people must be given the choice to choose their leaders. But the fragmented Opposition doesn’t want one because it can’t unite. And it can’t set aside personal agenda for the sake of the greater good. If it can, it earns the right to govern.

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