Mahathir, in alleging that Sultan handed over power to the British, glossed over the colonial administration elevating river mouth dwelling toll collectors in Malaya as territorial rulers recognised by the English crown!
Commentary And Analysis . . . The jury may no longer be out on dictatorial former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad spinning alternative versions of history. He may be sitting on another planet and falling back on fixations, pet theories, hangups and fairy tales for some version of history on Sultan and abuse of power.
It may be form of rotten politics, for no rhyme or reason, unparalleled in local history.
It was the British who elevated the rivermouth dwelling toll collectors in Malaya as territorial rulers recognised by the English crown in 1826. The colonial administration drew borders for the territories named after the main waterways after stopping toll collection and granting them annual purse. The annual purse continues 66 years after the British left.
The nine heirs of the defunct Sulu sultanate were not so fortunate. Their annual purse, fixed at RM5,300 by the High Court of Borneo in 1939, was abolished and/or suspended in 2013 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak. The then Prime Minister believed that the Sulu Heirs were behind the Lahad Datu intrusion by militants.
The sultan, as decreed by the English crown, preside over the spiritual affairs of the local ummah (faithful), language, culture, customs, traditions and rituals.
Mahathir Misleads On Sultan
The difference before and after Merdeka, on 31 August 1957, remains that the Sultan have been further elevated as head of state. Non-sultanates in Malaysia, both in Malaya and the former British Borneo, have Governor as head of state.
Article 39 of the Federal Constitution reads, “the executive authority of the Federation shall be vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and exercisable, subject to the provisions of any federal law and of the Second Schedule, by him or by the Cabinet or any Minister authorised by Cabinet, but Parliament may by law confer executive functions on other persons”.
Briefly, for those unfamiliar, the Agong does not keep executive authority but delegates the power by Administration. The Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers exercise executive authority.
In England, for example, the unwritten/uncodified British Constitution mentions no Prime Minister and Council of Ministers. The King remains the sole executive authority. However, by convention, the King delegates executive authority by Administration. The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers assume executive authority.
Convention, i.e. the working of the Constitution, isn’t law. The court of law will not hear Application on Convention. It has no jurisdiction. Convention isn’t matter for judicial consideration and resolution as discretion isn’t law. However, discretion does not exist if abuse of power can be proven.
Abuse Of Power
It’s unthinkable that any court in Malaysia will find that abuse of power by the Agong can be proven. Likewise in England by the King or in Commonwealth jurisdiction by heads of state.
The suggestion by the Johor Sultan, the Agong in Waiting for 31 January, merits consideration. The new Agong isn’t planning on assuming executive authority. He thinks that Petronas and MACC should report to him and not the Prime Minister or Parliament.
The jury may no longer be out on whether Petronas and MACC have failed.
The Johor Sultan has seen that MACC reporting to Prime Minister or Parliament hasn’t seen justice done. There are no prizes for guessing who should be in jail but still remains free.
Mahathir, based on his own words, has allegedly committed sedition and treason.
The Johor Sultan, as new Agong come 31 January, will insist that Mahathir sits in jail. It’s about conventions, i.e. the working of the Constitution, not the latter document.
MACC remains the pits on politically motivated prosecution and selective persecution.
Najib was jailed unrepresented on 23 August last year. The conviction on the RM42m SRC International case allegedly wasn’t perfected in law for perfection in law.
Najib awaits UN Review on arbitrary detention. The Review, expected before Christmas, can only find the SRC case incomplete and call for 2nd Review on procedures, due process and the rule of law, the basis of the Constitution.
Federal Court Review Panel Head Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli ruled DNA (discharge and acquittal) for Najib on 31 March. The judge discovered too many transgressions against Najib.
Former Court of Appeal Judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer advised Najib’s family recently that they can file habeas corpus application and/or Petition for Pardon before the Conference of Rulers.
The Johor Sultan has publicly expressed opinion that either more people should join Najib or that he should be released.
The Federal government has routinely used Petronas as cash cow for politically expedient causes at the expense of Sabah and Sarawak in particular. Most of Malaysia’s oil and gas resources lie in the waters of the former British Borneo.
The two Borneo territories get only 5 per cent oil royalty every year.
In addition, Sabah has been denied since 1976 the 40 per cent return on revenue enshrined in the Constitution. The return, it has been estimated, stands at RM6.4b for last year alone. The amount stands separate from the annual allocations from the National Budget for all states.
Mahathir Loses The Plot
Mahathir’s call for balance of power between the Agong and Parliament remains Opinion which may not stand up in the court of law. Only the court can declare law.
It’s also the political reality that there has been hung Parliament in Malaysia since GE14 on 9 May 2018. That has not been lost on the Johor Sultan.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib, having the single most seats in Parliament after GE14, should have been invited on forming the government first. It did not happen.
The rest remains even more history before GE15, marked by Interim Prime Minister Mahathir, pushing for partlyless government. The idea was aborted after a week.
Two Malay government, headed by “backdoor” Prime Minister followed.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin — Mahiaddin in birth cert — did not seek confidence vote in Parliament. He fell back on emergency rule for six months by citing the pandemic numbers which may not have been true.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, likewise, did not have the numbers. He signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The Agong decreed unity government after GE15 produced hung Parliament. It did not happen.
In 1969, after week-long disturbances which began on 13 May in the streets of Kuala Lumpur, polling was suspended in Sabah and Sarawak. Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman stepped down. Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak became Director of Operations, under Article 39, and the Cabinet, democracy and Parliament were suspended. The National Operations Council (NOC) replaced the Cabinet.
It can happen again if the system of party politics fails and partyless Cabinet and government does not come in. Martial law may be non-starter. — NMH
Longtime Borneo watcher Joe Fernandez has been writing for many years on both sides of the Southeast Asia Sea. He should not be mistaken for a namesake formerly with the Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. JF keeps a Blog under FernzTheGreat on the nature of human relationships.