Sultan is bound by the rakyat, say PAS leaders

By Boo Su-Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

PAS leaders today accused Datuk Seri Nazri Mohamed Aziz of “humiliating” the Malay rulers by dragging the monarchy into the row on “ketuanan Melayu” and “ketuanan rakyat”.

They also said a Sultan was obligated to submit to the rakyat’s demands and place their interests above his own. 

“Just as the rakyat is bound by him (the Sultan), so is he bound by the rakyat,” PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider yesterday. 

“The constitutional monarch . . . is well aware that the interest of his rakyat predominates and supersedes even his interest.” 

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar lambasted Nazri and accused the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department of attempting to instigate the Malay rulers into dismissing the electoral decisions of Malaysians.

“To me, Nazri’s statement is akin to trying to incite the rulers to disrespect the decisions of the people in our country,” said the Pokok Sena MP. 

“This reduces the sovereignty and knowledge of our rulers who live in a democracy about ‘ketuanan rakyat’ (people’s supremacy). Nazri is humiliating the rulers.” 

Dzulkefly also called Nazri “malicious” for interpreting “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay supremacy) as the sovereignty of the Malay rulers. 

“When you talk about ‘ketuanan Melayu’, never equate it to ‘ketuanan Sultan’,” said Dzulkefly, who is Kuala Selangor MP. “That is abominable and malicious. 

“Never drag the Sultan into this acrimonious debate of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ versus ‘ketuanan rakyat’.” 

Nazri had told PKR leaders that “ketuanan rakyat” did not grant the people full power to decide their government leaders, reminding them that the Malay rulers still reigned supreme in Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy system.

Dzulkefly said the Sultan’s decisions must reflect the sentiment of the people as the Sultan was not an absolute monarch. 

“Should the rakyat be overwhelmingly for something or against something, the constitutional monarch must, in the best interest of the nation and his position as a monarch, take this into account,” he said. “This means that he is not absolute.”

He said the Sultan was obligated to endorse proposed amendments to the Constitution by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. 

“There is the fact that the rakyat can in fact amend the Constitution, given the two-thirds majority, whether it is Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Rakyat (PR), and the monarch has got to condone and endorse it,” said Dzulkefly.

The current row over the “ketuanan Melayu” concept started over the weekend when several PKR leaders, including president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and deputy president Azmin Ali, rejected the concept, pointing out that the Malay race was no more supreme than the others.

Wan Azizah’s husband, PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, joined the fray and propagated the “ketuanan rakyat” concept.

Mahfuz said yesterday that in the case of Perak, it was incumbent on the Sultan to uphold the political party that enjoyed a majority in the state assembly. 

“The Sultan still chooses the party that is chosen by the majority,” he said. “He cannot choose others. This shows that the Sultan has to obey the choices made by the rakyat.”

He echoed Dzulkefly’s views and pointed out that the Malay rulers had always upheld the decisions of the electorate. 

“It is the people who make their choices during elections,” said Mahfuz. “There is nothing in the Federal Constitution that denies the choices made by the people during elections.

“I see that even the Malay rulers respect the choices of voters.” 

He said Umno was inciting the Malay rulers to fight the people over their democratic rights to elect the government. 

“They are instigating the rulers to war with the rakyat, who are given the rights in a democracy to determine their government,” said Mahfuz.