Daulat Tuanku! Daulat Tuanku! Daulat Tuanku!
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, fondly and respectfully referred to as Pak Lah or ‘Father’ Lah, said that the plan to turn the Bukit Cahaya Agriculture Park in Shah Alam into Federal Territory has been aborted. The reason, said Pak Lah, is because ‘certain parties’ have objected to it.
CERTAIN PARTIES! How uncouth and ill-mannered of this Fifth Prime Minister? First of all, the ‘certain parties’ he was referring to are actually not certain parties at all; it is only ONE party. And this one ‘party’ is His Royal Highness, DYMM the Sultan of Selangor.
Secondly, this shows the low breeding and poor upbringing of our Prime Minister. Why can’t he address or refer to our Sultan in the proper manner, with protocol and etiquette? Sultans are never referred to as ‘certain parties’. You would expect the son of a renowned religious scholar to be better-groomed that this.
Granted, Pak Lah was never schooled in Oxford like ‘certain parties’ we all know of… wink… wink. But must he embarrass the proud and tradition-entrenched Malays by acting like what the Arabs would classify as manners of a desert Bedouin? Hmm… Bedouin… Badawi… maybe that is the problem here.
Even ex-Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, how despicable a creature he may be, addresses people in the proper manner. As much as he despises Anwar Ibrahim, he still refers to Anwar as Datuk Seri Anwar.
Well, maybe Pak Lah does not want the rakyat (citizens) to know that he has just suffered his first Constitutional Crisis, barely two years in office and only one year after winning his first general election as Malaysia’s Prime Minister. That would explain why he would rather hide the fact it was His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor who opposed the plan to turn part of Selangor territory into Federal territory.
On Friday, 11 March 2005, DYMM the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah ibni al-Marhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, the Ninth Sultan of Selangor, wrote to Pak Lah, extremely angry that the Federal Government was going to annex part of Selangor Territory without the permission or agreement of the Selangor State Government or the Sultan. By the way, other words for ‘annex’ is to seize, to occupy, to take control, to capture, or to invade.
His Royal Highness’ letter to Pak Lah was stinking to say the least, and about time too. The Federal Government is always treating the states as it pleases. It thinks it owns the states and that it can bully the states. This is certainly a fallacy at best and a breach of the terms of the Federation of Malaya at worst.
The Federation of Malaya was born on Merdeka (independence) Day on 31st August 1957 whereby the states within the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States would merge into one Nation called Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Union of Malay States). This would be almost similar to the United States of America.
Some functions of the nation would be the responsibility of the Federal Government while some would be retained as the powers of the states. National defence, security and so on, would be the Federal Government’s responsibility while matters involving religion, state resources, and so on, would be up to the state to decide. Further to this, the then immigrants from India and China would be given citizenship while the Malays would be accorded certain rights and privileges and Islam would be the official religion of the land and Malay the national Language.
Umno — and Dr Mahathir as well — says if the Indians and Chinese are not happy with this arrangement that saw the birth of the Federation of Malaya and would like the special rights of the privileges of the Malays removed, then the ‘agreement’ can be rescinded as the special rights and privileges are part of the agreement. Once the agreement is rescinded, the Indians and Chinese can then all go back to India and China from where they came from.
In a way, going strictly by the Federation ‘agreement’, Umno and Dr Mahathir are right. The only snag though: the present day Indians and Chinese were all born in Malaysia and did not migrate to Malaysia. Those who did and who were granted citizenship on 31 August 1957 have mostly all died by now. So this argument does not apply to the Indians and Chinese of today. The Indians and Chinese born in Malaysia are as Malaysian, if not more Malaysian, than the Malays (because many ‘Malays’ were not really born in Malaysia, Raja Petra included).
The point to all this is (and the reason I mentioned it), in the same spirit of Umno and Dr Mahathir with regards to the special rights and privileges issue, we can also argue that if the Federal Government no longer honours the terms of the Federation of Malaya, then just disband the Federation and revert to the original system of the Federated and Unfederated Malay States.
If the Indians and Chinese can be told to crawl back into the holes that they crawled out from, in this same spirit and using the same argument, the Federal Government too can be told to go do the same.
And under what ‘authority’ do I say this? I say this as a member of the Selangor Royal Family whose family sits in the Royal Council. In Selangor, it is the dog that wags the tail, not the tail that wags the dog. The Royal Council decides on the succession to the Selangor throne. The Royal Council, in a way, ‘elected’ the Sultan and gave him his job. If the Royal Council ‘hires’ you, then the Royal Council can fire you as well. And if the Sultan had not defended the sanctity of Selangor Territory, I would have been the first to campaign for his removal from the throne and get him replaced with someone else more suitable for the job, maybe Tengku Sulaiman or someone like that.
During the Constitution Crisis of the mid 1980s, Dr Mahathir falsely told Malaysians that the Sultans had ‘immunity’ and that he was going to remove their immunity. Dr Mahathir shamelessly lied to the nation and he should be hanged upside down from the highest tree for this. Dr Mahathir should have been tried for treason against the king; just like what happened recently to the Al Maunah crowd that was found guilty of ‘waging war against the King’.
Sultans DO NOT have immunity, at least not the Selangor Sultan. He is appointed by the Royal Council and can be removed if he misbehaves in any manner. He can be banished, placed under house arrest, and even be brought to trial if necessary. In the past, sultans as well as certain members of the royal family have murdered, raped, plus committed ‘lesser’ crimes like cheating, swindling, and so on. Why were they not charged and tried for these crimes? Is it because they have immunity? No! It is NOT because they have immunity. It is because those who committed these crimes were close to Dr Mahathir.
If any Sultan not close to Dr Mahathir, like the Sultan of Kelantan, had committed an offence, then the Federal Government would have acted against him. Remember what happened when the Sultan of Kelantan brought in his Lamborghini? Did the government not confiscate it? So action CAN be taken against Sultans, contrary to what Dr Mahathir has been telling the nation all this while.
The Kelantan Sultan’s case is actually very interesting indeed. He had brought in his Lamborghini tax-free, as he is entitled to do under the Kelantan State Constitution. The State and not the Federal Government decides how many cars the Sultan can bring in tax-free, normally about seven in all. And, normally, three tax-free cars are also allowed for the Regent. The Kelantan Sultan’s son, however, was just a toddler and therefore too young to drive. So the State transferred his son’s allocation of three cars to the Sultan, so now he could bring in ten tax-free cars.
The Federal Government, however, did not know this so the Customs Department confiscated the car on the instructions of the Ministry of Finance, the Minister then being Anwar Ibrahim. The Sultan was furious and he sent his aids to repossess the car. They just jumped into the car and drove off with the customs officers in chase like Keystone Cops. It must have been a hilarious sight indeed.
Dr Mahathir was infuriated. Then the Federal Government found out it had made an embarrassing mistake and the matter was never brought up again. The newspapers were told to blackout all news on the matter lest the people find out what really happened. In fact, Anwar even erred in saying that the Conference of Rulers decides on the tax-free quota. Conference of Rulers? Anwar’s advisors should have been shot.
The point to all this is: Sultans DO NOT have immunity as what many have been led to believe. Action can be taken against them if they break the law. But most times it is never done — unless that particular sultan is not an Umno crony. And the same goes for Ministers and politicians as well. Those who are close to the powers-that-be can commit murder (and they have, mind you) but nothing happens to them. But if you go against the Boss, then they even go so far as to create a fictitious crime you are supposed to have committed and throw you in jail. Remember Anwar Ibrahim?
Anyway, as usual, I am digressing from the topic of the day. Today, what I want to relate is how the Federal Government has been bullying the states in violation of the terms and spirit of the Federation. Parts of Selangor have been annexed from the time of the late Sultan. When they forced the Sultan then to hand over Kuala Lumpur to the Federal Government it was on the excuse that it was required as the nation’s capital. The Sultan cried as he signed the document handing over Kuala Lumpur to the Federal Government. He then instructed all the Selangor State Government departments and agencies to move out of Kuala Lumpur and shift to Shah Alam, the new State Capital that he ordered built.
Then Dr Mahathir annexed Putrajaya on the excuse that this would be the new Federal Capital. If Putrajaya, and no longer Kuala Lumpur, was to be the new Federal Capital, why was Kuala Lumpur not handed back to Selangor? The reason for annexing it no longer exists so Kuala Lumpur should be returned to Selangor. In fact, the Chief Minister then, Abu Hassan Omar, too did not agree to the annexing of Putrajaya. That was why he was quickly removed from office and the new Chief Minister who took over was given the job on the understanding that he will not oppose the Federal Government’s move to annex Putrajaya.
Another demonstration of Federal Government bullying is the issue of state resources. Under the terms of the Federation, state resources such as water, coal, gold, timber, oil, gas, and anything that is found on state land or within the state’s territorial waters belong to the state. In 1974, Parliament passed a law whereby oil and gas would now belong to a national company to be set up through Act of Parliament; Petronas. Petronas was then asked to sign agreements with all the states giving them back 5% of this oil and gas revenue in the form of royalty.
The oil and gas is wholly-owned (100%) by the states. Why take it away from them and give them back a mere 5% royalty? You can argue that it was done through Act of Parliament so it was legal. Legal, maybe — and I say maybe only if you ignore the terms of the Federation — but is it morally right? An agreement between the States and the Federation exist. As long as the agreement exists, then the Federation exists. Once one party breaches the agreement, then the Federation ceases to exist. And since the Federal Government keeps breaching the terms of the Federation would not the Federation of Malaya, and now Malaysia, therefore no longer exist as a legal entity, though it may still exist as a nation?
Not enough the states had their oil and gas taken away from them in breach of the spirit of the Federation, they were also forced to sign agreements agreeing to a 5% royalty for all oil and gas found in their states. But then, in 2000, Dr Mahathir refused to pay Terengganu its royalty and he told the world that the Federal Government is not obligated to pay it. The 5%, argued Dr Mahathir, is ‘goodwill’ and not ‘royalty’, and being goodwill the Federal Government can chose to pay or can chose not to pay.
What about the Petroleum Development Act 1974 and the two agreements Petronas signed with the states? Do these all no longer exist? In the first place, should the states be forced to sign agreements against their will and suffer their resources being taken away against their wishes?
Pak Lah had better think again if he thinks he can continue bullying the states like how Dr Mahathir used to. Selangor is one state that he will not bully. Twice before, the Federal Government annexed parts of Selangor by ‘force’. No longer can this be done. And His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor had better defend the sanctity of Selangor territory if he wants to remain on the throne.
Daulat Tuanku! Daulat Tuanku! Daulat Tuanku!