KUCHING: A political analyst has said that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s granting of audiences to political party leaders emphasises a ‘tale of wisdom and weakness’ in the nation.
“The fact that the King has summoned political party leaders, including members of the opposition, highlights His Majesty’s deep concern for the situation,” said Dr Jeniri Amir, who is also a senior fellow of the National Council of Professors.
He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was demonstrating ‘wisdom’ in adopting an inclusive approach to addressing concerns regarding the management of the Covid-19 crisis.
While describing the monarchy’s direct involvement in matters of the state as ‘rare’, Jeniri pointed out that such an occurrence was not the first during the present administration.
He noted that last year, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had also called for a special rulers’ meeting to discuss a proposed declaration of emergency.
In addition, he noted that the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, had also convened a meeting with MPs and assemblymen of Johor during the closure of Parliament and the Johor State Legislative Assembly.
“To me, all these say a lot about the government’s failure in handling the Covid-19 crisis,” said Jeniri.
With the declaration of the state of emergency by the King in January, he believed that Putrajaya should have had enough power, time and space to tackle the Covid-19 crisis as it had done successfully during the initial movement control order (MCO) in March last year.
“In an emergency, the federal government is in the driver’s seat. Politicking does not, and should not, become a problem.
“Somehow, despite the power and resources at the government’s disposal, the Covid-19 situation has become worse,” he said.
Pointing out that Parliament was the best platform for the discussion of issues impacting the country, he believed that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was aware of this as well.
“I think this is why he has made it clear that Parliament can convene during an emergency. It is the government that has advised against it,” he said.
As Parliament cannot convene at this time, Jeniri said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was able to obtain the views of leaders and the people by summoning political party leaders.
He believed that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was trying to go beyond politics in order to address the issue at hand by taking an inclusive approach and speaking to all parties and rulers.
“I don’t think it is something that bodes well politically for Perikatan Nasional (PN), but it would serve them and the people well to take a leaf from His Majesty,” he opined, adding that the government should objectively view the opinions, criticisms and proposals of all parties in handling the Covid-19 situation.
“So what if an idea or proposal comes from the biggest government critics? Who cares if an idea comes from Najib Razak or Pakatan Harapan (PH)? As long as it is the right thing to do, the government should listen and take note,” he said.