Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ku Li: Who Has Harmed Malay Rulers More Than UMNO?

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 – His destiny might not lie in leading Umno but Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah might just be the best person to handle and put a budding public and political disenchantment with a section of the Malay royalty in perspective, particularly Ummo’s perceived role of protecting the Malay Rulers.

Writing in his weblog today, the Kelantan prince said the current Perak imbroglio is not the country’s first constitutional crisis as Umno itself confronted the Malay Rulers in 1993 when it campaigned to remove their immunity through amendments to the Federal Constitution.

“Today’s crisis in Perak is about the legitimacy of the process by which a new state government has been formed in Perak. It’s not about the status of the Rulers,” Tengku Razaleigh said in his latest post titled “1993”.

“In comparison, the constitutional crisis of 1993 arose from an ugly confrontation between Umno and the Rulers over a question that had direct and profound implications on their sovereignty and that of the Yang Dipertuan Agong. For good reason, the Head of State in most countries may not be prosecuted in an ordinary court of law. In 1993, the government campaigned to remove this immunity through amendments to the Constitution.

“I opposed these amendments,” the Gua Musang MP said emphatically.

Alluding to his political rival Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the veteran Umno leader said both the rulers and parliament were railroaded by the government of the day to pass the amendments.

“These are the very same amendments which today make it legal for a Ruler to be prosecuted. Mr Karpal Singh, though I disagree with him, was acting well within rights that an Umno-led government enacted in 1993 when he earlier proposed to sue DYMM the Sultan of Perak,” he added.

Reflecting on the irony, Tengku Razaleigh posed the question, “Umno serve the Rulers more genuinely by upholding and protecting the Constitution which guarantees their status, or by histrionic displays tuned for the coming Umno elections?”, in an apparent reference to candidates in the party elections who have taken to the streets and demanded action against the opposition.

Umno Youth leaders are also organising a rally on Feb 19 in Kuala Lumpur to reaffirm their loyalty to the Malay Rulers while party-owned newspapers have gone to town baying for the blood of those who disputed the Perak Ruler’s decision to change state government.

The former Umno vice-president, who only received one nomination to go for the Umno presidency, said this had a bearing upon the kind of leaders and party that Umno members want.

“Do we want to be led by those who can understand and address the foundational issues facing our society today, and shall we have leaders capable of forging ‘mutual consent by debate and discussion, inquiries and elections’ or shall we again be landed with those whose main talent is to strike poses that people outside a small, insecure circle in Umno, and particularly Malaysia’s internet generation, find ridiculous?

“Was greater harm done to the sovereignty of the Rulers in 1993 through Parliament or a week ago on the streets of Perak?” he asked, alluding to Umno’s umbrage over the protests that marred the swearing-in ceremony for the Barisan Nasional Menteri Besar Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir.

He expounded on his point with another question on Umno’s ability to defend the Malay Rulers.

“And is today’s Umno, with its inconsistent adherence to the rule of law, its inconstant respect for the key institutions of our country, a credible or effective defender of the Rulers and of the laws upholding this institution?

“Or do we actually harm what we claim to protect?” he said in ending his post, which also included two videos of his parliament speech in 1993 opposing the amendments when he was Semangat 46 leader after Umno was declared illegal in 1988. He rejoined Umno in 1995. [themalaysianinsider]

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