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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Constitutionalism - The Malaysian Recent Experience.

Assertive monarchy - In search of its constitutional basis

The perception among the public now is that the rulers, in the aftermath of the 12th General Elections, have begun assuming an active role.
Harakah spoke to Professor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, a constitutional law expert at the International Islamic University Malaysia.

It seems that Harakah is trying to clarify .....
"these includes the formation of the state governments, dissolution of Parliament, declaration of emergency and even the dismissal of government."

the ruler's recent acts :

"It appears to me that those who are not happy with the rulers' activism overlook the government's sway over so many things. This is indeed very much the antithesis of constitutionalism and limited government both of which are inherent in the constitution."

the scenario :

"We have to bear in mind that the three parties did not go to the polls as one unit like the Barisan Nasional and this has, I think, made the matter rather messy and complicated. But the palace has helped to stabilize the situation and I think we must give them the credit."

"Previously the rulers took the clue from the Umno leadership at the centre but the post-election scenario this time around was different. Unlike before, Umno was not able to control its own assemblymen."

what the Raja of Perlis did :

"the Raja of Perlis went and ascertained the person who had got the most support in the House himself"

what the Sultan of Trengganu did :

"Terengganu was more than just the exercise of power of appointment. I think the palace actually resorted to the notion of reserve power in order to avoid the state from being put under someone whose image was autocratic and unclean."

do not fear Palace intervention :

"To my mind the fear was rather misplaced for it failed to take into account the guardianship role of the monarchy; something that allows the institution to assume a kind of reserve power in order to save the constitution."

a caution in declaring emergency :

"Given the extreme and devastating impact of an emergency on the constitutional provisions, he (the Monarch) has a very important role to make sure that the government does not abuse the provision to protect its interests."

a reminder

" . . . we have not seen any glaring abuse of powers by them, at least in comparison with the successive governments since independence. And perhaps one needs to see the excesses of some of the rulers as a reaction to the elected politicians who, instead of ruling the country democratically, have become another bunch of autocratic politicians manipulating the system for their own vested interests."

the caveat "if"

"If the system works there is no need to depend on the monarchy but if there is a breakdown or that the system is prevented from functioning then there is a good case for the intervention on the part of the monarchy. Indeed this is an obligation; namely the duty to protect the constitution and its ideals from being subverted and undermined. We've got to remember that it is the duty of everyone vested with public powers to do the same but when these people fail to do that then it is incumbent on the monarchy to come forward. I believe this is wide enough to justify extreme measures so long as it is done with a view to protect and uphold the constitution." . . . to be in context, read the interview.

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