Te whetu Orongo

Around thrones the thunder rolls.

– CJ Sansom, British writer

I strongly believe that our Federal Constitution (FC), the supreme law of Malaysia, is irreverently misinterpreted, misunderstood, misdirected and misapplied in matters relating to litigation, whether civil or criminal, with the intercession of none other than the Yang di-Pertuan Agong whose constitutional role becomes unwittingly blurred.

It is admittedly true that smart laws do not assure justice any more than a good recipe guarantees a delicious meal.  But, it is a smart and stable law that grants our Agong specific powers by virtue of the ancient Latin adage rex non potest peccare.

Our supreme law grants any aggrieved citizen the right to first petition the Agong under Article 130 FC empowering His Majesty to refer the matter to the Federal Court as a court of original jurisdiction under Article 128 (2) FC.  I am not sure if any litigant has taken this route.

Citizens must thync (think) different as game-changers. The times, tests, twists, tides, trials and tribulations encourage this paradigm shift. We must not always rely on the government for decision making and moral reasoning.

There is a great outcry in the country for the abolishment of the death penalty. Why aren’t the experts invoking Article 42 FC since the Agong is vested with the power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites? Shouldn’t the government be doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons, purposes and objectives?

The Agong is entrusted with safeguarding all citizens — the Malays, Natives of Sabah and Sarawak, and all other communities. This kingly role is unquestionably and irrevocably cast in stone in Article 153 FC. The question of unity in diversity should be a done deal instead of the constant bickering about the special position, special rights and special privileges of any particular community.

Our Agong’s personal touch has been well documented when His Majesty stopped to offer assistance to victims of road accidents, or donated personally to noble humanitarian causes. This rare form of kingly care and concern is indeed laudatory to adorn Article 183 FC which guarantees that no action can be taken for His Majesty’s acts or omissions in his personal capacity.

As executive head of the Federation, the Agong has tremendous power and authority under Article 38 FC, and as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces of the Federation under Article 41 FC. This is beyond examination, elaboration, or explanation.

Article 55 FC further vests power with the Agong over summoning, proroguing or dissolving Parliament when its protocols, process and procedures go awry given the circumstances and exigencies.

I have always been curious as to what happens if a sitting prime minister offers the wrong advice to the Agong as provided in Article 40(1) and Article 40(1A) FC. I believe the Agong’s discretionary power steps in to sieve any such advice.

But, the Agong’s discretion in appointing a prime minister is undeniably explained in Article 40(2)(a). His Majesty is not confined or restricted to seeking only the advice of the prime minister, or the Cabinet, according to Article 40(3).

During the stormy 1988 Malaysian judicial putsch some foreign political observers pointed to the fact these above-mentioned constitutional provisions should have been exercised at will by the then Agong to thwart the then prime minister from doing things “his way”,

The 80s was a totally different time when executive power reposing in one pair of hands assumed reprehensible proportions much to the detriment of constructive criticism and democratic principles. The media, erroneously, reported the clipping, trimming and pruning of Malaysia’s royal powers.

I give great reverence to Article 182(7) FC which vests His Majesty with the unbridled power and authority, with the advice of the Chief Justice, to make changes to any written law as and when necessary and expedient. Interestingly, parliamentary approval, or consent, is wisely not mentioned.

Article 182(7) when properly used, as transpired with the resignation of the eighth prime minister, is a no-nonsense constitutional clause sealing the fate of uncertain, weak and unnecessary laws. Malaysians must seek its wisdom instead of first running to the courts.

We are indeed fortunate that in the person of Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Bilah Shah Ibni Almahrum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah, we have an able and transformational leader.

Daulat Tuanku!

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.