Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Fiasco Is Over, But Does It Really?

Lots of relieved faces were visibly seen when the fiasco of Terengganu MB (State Chief Minister) crisis came to and end recently. I for one did not see it as over, in the actual sense. The Pandora box has only been opened. Now, it seems that the MPPR (Royal Advisory Council) do have veto power over the voice of the people, the recently concluded General Election, and for me, this does not augur well with the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy concepts that Malaysia uphold since her independent, more than half century ago. Much has been deliberated on this issue and I believed that Malaysian of all and sundry do understand the consequences and the principle law regarding the same and as such will not be discuss here.

But what I wish to touch here is the consequences with regard to blatant disregard of convention. Convention or practice has been accepted as one way to interpret the constitution, in the event of lacuna or gap in the law itself, and the failure to adhere to such a convention that since 31st August 1957, the Prime Minister, by way of a Letter of Appointment issued under his name, has been the person advising the ruler on who is to be elected as State Chief Minister of that particular state where his party has managed to form a government, would definitely have some adverse effect in the future. It is foreseeable that other convention such as that the Prime Minister must be Malay no longer holds water and precedent wise could as well be challenged. Malaysia is a very unique country, one of a kind in this context, and negative consequences will always be there no matter how matured and savvy the people are. Even recently, "demos" have been carried out by UMNO Penang due to a statement made by the new CM of Penang concerning the much debated NEP (National Economic Policy), which in actual sense, does not exist anymore due to its abolishment in 1990 when it was changed to another policy by the former Premier. And the danger is that some quarters would keep on to stoke the sentiment of the people and by starting a precedent, in terengganu context, that is alright not to adhere to established convention of the constitution certainly would not help. Laws and conventions must be certain and consistent. To simply disregard certain laws or conventions according to one's whim and fancy would only makes matter worst.

Having said that, hypothetically, in Terengganu context, the MPPR, down the line during the term of the coming Terengganu State's Assembly, feels, for whatever reason (they seem to have that luxury, of not having to justify their decision), that they do not like the new MB anymore and decides that he does not "command the support of majority" in the State Assembly and instead appoint another state assemblymen as MB, that in their mind command the majority support. From what have happened in Terengganu, that would constitute a valid appointment nevertheless in accordance with the precedent made recently. What will happen then? Your guess is as good as mine.

..So, is it really over? "Tepuk Dada Tanya Selera"
The issue and some interesting points relating to the same have been raised and blogged here, here, and here too.
Addendum: Courtesy of
Former MB apologizes and making his points on the issue.


Zed Zachary said...

In a way, I was glad to see the clout in Tganu is finally over. What a big relief!! We have come to a point where it does not matter anymore who won. For the sake of sanity, someone should give way. It is a sad day for democracy.

Abdullah failed miserably. He failed to uphold the sanctity of the constitution. We are a democratic nation with a constitutional monarchy system of governance. As such, it is simply understood that the palace should stay clear and above local politics. Tetapi kelemahan Abdullah seolah olah menghalalkan institusi raja untuk mencampur tangan di dalam kancah politik negara. This is where it will all go wrong for us.

We cry in support of those who opposed Idris but we fail to acknowledge the majority of the people in Tganu who voted for his government.The fact remains that he won big in Tganu. And the whole UMNO leaders are in full support of his leadership. He had the mandate of the majority of the people in Tganu, phantom voters or otherwise. In politics you will always have enemies on the other side of the fence.

What happened in Tganu is a farce. The very constitution that exists for the protection of the people is used against the people. Hey..why not we just do away with the whole election process!! Lets just leave it to the King to decide on everything. Lets go back to feudalism where the King is absolute. We have to remember, raja pun manusia jugak, tak terlepas dari kesalahan dan dosa. Sultan Mansoor Shah termakan fitnah pembesar negeri and Hang Tuah was punished before it all went wrong for the holy King. And we are all too eager to discard the the truth and logic all in the name of ketuanan melayu?! Ketuanan melayu is bigger than that. Janganlah sebab dia raja kita kena ikut bulat-bulat. Kita kena selidik, kena periksa. Kalau yang dipilih untuk mengganti hanyalah mampu menjadi yesman diraja, satu sen pun tak guna!! Orang Tganu keluar mulut harimau masuk mulut buaya.

The King should have asked Abdullah to let the ADUNs decide and choose the most suitable replacement amongst them. Instead he chose his own. This is a mistake by the revered King. A leader should be elected not appointed. Mat Said does not command the trust and respect of the leaders in Tganu and he will have a tough time governing the State. And the real loser will be the little people of Tganu. It's a damn shame if you ask me..!!

Well i suppose we should learn from this whole episode. There is good and bad in everything. The good part is now that it is all over we can start picking up the pieces and rebuild whatever hope and dignity we have left and concentrate on building a better future for Malaysia. Abdullah had just signed his death warrant in the political sense of speaking. That's good!! He wont last long for sure. The bad thing is we have lost a good man and a Malay leader in Idris, a political ally and a personal friend. I wish him well.

Anonymous said...

Nothing Is Impossible


Malaysian politics has entered into an era where nothing is impossible. Most of the people thought that it was impossible to deprive BN of its two-third majority in Parliament before the elections. Eventually, the Opposition did not merely achieved an impossible goal but as well won five state regimes.

The massive change has become an everyday hot political topic. After the elections, the people were worried about the Opposition might not be able to form state government in Selangor, Perak, Penang and Kedah. Bur surprisingly, the state governments that actually faced problems were Perlis and Terengganu which are both under the control of BN.

The dispute over the Terengganu Menteri Besar post took three weeks to play itself out, something no one could imagine possible. The constitutional crisis in Terengganu should not be simply defined as “the interference of the royal family in politics” as it is one of the rights of Sultan to appoint the state's MB. The royalty was pushed aside by the executive power during the era of strongman politics in the past 20 years.

Theoretically, the separation of powers is in fact one of the best political devices in the world. The core value for the separation of powers is the mutual check and balance among the three powers (legislative, executive and judicial). But the executive power expanded without limits under the strongman era while the legislative and judicial powers were eroded. And there was little separation of powers for effective checks and balances.

Actually, the massive change and the constitutional crisis were to be expected. In fact, with the rising public awareness over democracy and knowledge of the new royal generation, such political situations are inevitable.

The respective state constitutions have been implemented for over half of a century and is basically along the lines of the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom. Nothing happened in the past as the interest of the rulers were well protected and more importantly, the political arena was dominated by Umno.

However, after former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad amended twice the constitutions in the 1980s and 1990s to weaken the power of rulers, some rulers of the new generation who were highly educated and aware of democracy started to think about the future of the royal families. They also started to be concerned about the current state of politics and this demonstrated a new thinking and a new outlook of the royal families.

But the revival of royalty has triggered a new controversy. The people started to worry whether the rulers were too powerful that might lead to another round of totalitarianism.

The people's anxiety was in fact not unreasonable. Because if a ruler does not listen to the “advice” given by the leader of the ruling party and insists on appointing his preferred candidate as the MB, who is inappropriate, it means the ruler has rejected the public opinion. This has violated the parliamentary-democratic principle and made the general elections insignificant.

The reconciliation of the crisis in Terengganu depends on whether the state ruler and the federal government could achieve a compromise to make a mutual concession and choose another MB candidate who is endorsed by both parties.

There is no doubt that according to the law, the Sultan has the rights to appoint the MB of the state according to his own judgement. However, a MB that fails to gain support from the majority State Assembly persons might face a vote of no confidence. When this happens, the MB can either resign voluntarily or advice the ruler to dissolve the State Assembly for another elections.

But what if the ruler refuses to dissolve the State Assembly? Is there any article in the constitution that checks and balances the unlimited power of the Sultan?

From the people's perspective, both domination of a strong party and monarch totalitarianism will harm democracy. This is unhealthy and is far from what the people wish to see.

In short, everything seemed impossible yesterday turned out to be possible today. (Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily)

Anonymous said...

Ini baru permulaannya. Memang tidak ada noktah bagi episod di Terengganu. Lihat shaja apa yang sedang berlaku sekarang. Pi mai pi mai tang tu.