Wednesday, February 18, 2009


By: Perry

Nowadays we read from newspapers, particularly Malay language news papers, and hear much about a word derhaka. What is derhaka and how it came into play into our local politics or Malay-Malaysian psyche?

In simple language it means treason, less-majeste and rebel. I remember reading elsewhere that the root word of derhaka is durhaka which mean to disobey or to rebel. It is ia tabbo word for a Malay community because they are accustomed to a phrase ‘pantang Melayu mendurhaka’. In a Malay society, it is commonly believed and accepted a tradition whereby even a son could be labeled as anak durhaka because if he found to be disrespectful and disobey his parents.

Similarly, when a person did not respect and disobey a king, then he is said to have committed derhaka.

Our neighbour, Thailand, has laws forbidding their citizens to commit any sort of insult, criticize , accuse or expose their king and his family members in public. It is a major crime and punishable under the Thai criminal code. But do we have such laws in Malaysia?

Some say we do have laws in Malaysia restricting citizens to speak against rulers (sultans). Some say we don’t have such laws after the 1993 ammenment to the federal constitution. But the question we have to address now is whether Karpal Singh, who intent to challenge the Perak Sultan’s decision in court can be construed as treason or derhaka.

Lawyer Karpal Singh, chairman of Democratic Action Party (DAP), issued a statement lately that he determine to challenge in court the decision by Sultan of Perak to allow Barisan National to take over Perak state government from Pakatan Rakyat . Perak Sultan also asked the menteri besar (MB) and the entire state Exco members of Pakatan Rakyat government to relinquish their Exco positions.

Karpal Singh’s action is seen and regarded as derhaka by many quarters, particularly those who subscribe and susceptible to party politics of UMNO, the leading component party of the National Front (BN). Karpal Singh’s intention to challenge the ruler is tantamount to an act of disrespectful , disobeying and challenging sultan’s power as a ruler of a state. Furthermore,sultan is regarded and represents Malays, Malay culture , Malay rights and Islamic faith in this country. So, any attempt to challenge Sultan is presumed as challenging Malays.

Nevertheless , there are some quarters argue that Karpal Singh’s action does not subscribe to an act of derhaka because he is merely challenging Perak sultan’s decision in court.They put forward an argument that Karpal Singh is not challenging sultan as a ruler or his prerogative to make decision but merely challenging the decision made by sultan because, to them it is regarded as miscarriage of justice. So, the subject matter at hand is decision and not sultan.

However, we must not forget that our sultans are the custodian of our constitution. The sultans are entrusted with a cardinal duty to protect the Malay rights and safeguard the legitimate rights of the non-Malay citizens in this country. Another words, they are the constitutional monarch and they are bestowed with ‘ special powers’ to execute when necessary and time warrants. Every state in the federation has its own constitution besides the Federal Constitution.

In the case of Perak state, many are unaware that the sultan of Perak has been bestowed with ‘reserved powers’ under Undang-Undang Tubuh Kerajaan Negeri Perak, a state constitution which is pedestal for the administration of Perak state government, besides federal constitution.

This ‘reserved powers’ are said to be the Sultan’s inherent powers that he inherits which he may use upon his discretion at any one time to prevent any crisis that might jeopardize the stability and peace of his state. After the 12th general election held on 8 Mac 2008, the Raja of Perlis and Sultan of Terengganu used their “reserved powers” to appoint menteri besar of their choice for their respective state among the elected members, even though it was regarded as against the wishes of Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi.

Paduka Seri Raja Azlan Shah is ruler with abundant wisdom. Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah has served this nation ````as a legal adviser, magistrate, judge and finally as a Lord President of Malaysia for many years. Therefore, we must realize that Sultan Azlan Shah can be considered as a walking library of Malaysian laws.

Having said this, Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah has evoked the reserved powers bestowed to the ruler to manage the current political crisis in Perak. The Pakatan Rakyat government has lost its majority among the assembly members when three of their members deserted their party and supports the BN government.

At this juncture, Paduka Seri Sultan Perak appoint a menteri besar based on the powers bestowed to Sultan of Perak under article 16, 16(2)(a),16(6) and 16(4) and 16(2) clause (4) . Sultan has discretionary powers to ‘appoint a menteri besar who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the assembly”.

So, the decision made by Sultan Azlan Shah to appoint Datuk Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir who represents Barisan National is based on the reserved powers endowed to sultan and not against the democratic will of the people as many claim.

We must realize that the rulers do play an important role in maintaining harmony among various races under their care. The High Commissioner of The Federated Malay States, Sir Hugh Clifford has remarked in year 1927 that the states in Malaya are ruled by the Malay rulers who embraced the religion of Islam. It is our policy (British) to uphold the tradition of respecting and enhancing the rulers status as sovereign of their states.

Hence, let us accept without any doubt that Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Shah has followed the right procedures to make a wise decision and the decision made is legitimate because it was made according to the articles enshrined in the state law,Undang-Undang Tubuh Kerajaan Negeri Perak .

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