KUALA LUMPUR: The Sultan of Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah is set to take his oath and sign the instrument of office as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara tomorrow.
According to the Federal Constitution, as the nation’s head of state, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong plays a role in the three branches of government, namely the executive, legislative and judiciary.
Article 39 of the constitution stipulates that the executive authority of the federation shall be vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and exercisable by the King himself or the Cabinet or any minister or any other person authorised by Parliament.
Legal practitioner and former socio-cultural adviser to the government Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim is confident that, in carrying out his duties as stipulated in the constitution, Sultan Abdullah’s leadership qualities would come to the fore in cementing the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and constitutional monarchy.
Pointing to the fact that the term Yang di-Pertuan Agong is mentioned more than 450 times in the constitution, he said this alone reflected the crucial role played by the institution in the administration of the nation, as well as in ensuring the well-being of the people.
The election of Sultan Abdullah as Yang di-Pertuan Agong has created history in the system of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy practised by this country.
This is because the decision pertaining to the election of the Pahang ruler was made barely a week after he was proclaimed Sultan of Pahang on Jan 15.
Rais said Sultan Abdullah did not only possess extensive experience in state administrative matters but also boasts an educational background that can be considered universal, modern and practical, besides being rooted in a strong religious upbringing and Malay cultural environment.
“I’m confident that His Majesty will bring (more) development and glory to the nation. His Majesty has also proven his loyalty to the rule of constitutional monarchy in Pahang and we believe he will continue to excel at the federal level,” he said.
Sultan Abdullah, who was born on July 30, 1959, at Istana Mangga Tunggal in Pekan, Pahang, is the fourth child and eldest son of Sultan Ahmad Shah and the late Tengku Ampuan Afzan Tengku Muhammad.
He is married to Tengku Ampuan Pahang Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Almarhum Almutawakkil Alallah Sultan Iskandar Al-Haj. Their marriage took place on March 6, 1986.
Rais also expressed hopes that as Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah would take into consideration certain key issues in the constitution, such as Article 152 pertaining to the status of Bahasa Melayu as the national language and language of knowledge.
“For matters involving the Malays, Bumiputeras and national language including culture, I hope His Majesty would stress on their importance... this is because many people are not serious about these provisions that are enshrined in our constitution.
“Article 160(2), for instance, defines a Malay as a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language and conforms to Malay customs. Since the definition of Malay comes in three components, I hope it will once again be made a priority through His Majesty,” he added.
Pointing to Article 153, which grants the Yang di-Pertuan Agong responsibility for safeguarding the special position of the Malays and Bumiputeras and the legitimate interests of other communities, Rais said: “Action must be taken on the issues related to this matter so that the Malays and Bumiputeras, including those from Sabah and Sarawak, and the other communities can benefit.”
Rais said the firm action of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in relation to matters concerning articles 153, 152 and 160 of the Federal Constitution would create a more harmonious society because every individual, regardless of race, would know their respective roles, responsibilities and rights.
“Our nation’s institution of monarchy will be strengthened through the more distinct and bigger role shouldered by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” he added.
International Islamic University of Malaysia law lecturer Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod, meanwhile, said the rakyat must pledge their loyalty to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and nation as stated in the Rukun Negara.
It is also the duty and responsibility of every citizen to defend the institution of monarchy from being belittled by any party, he stressed.
“The sovereignty of the institution of monarchy is not just based on the fact that it is the nation’s supreme institution but also on the understanding that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong safeguards Islam and special privileges of the Malays and the Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputeras. His Majesty is also responsible for safeguarding the rights of other communities in Malaysia.
“Any form of insult or unwarranted criticism against the monarchy is considered an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the institution. Legal action must be taken against the culprits involved,” he said.
Asked how the Malay saying, ‘Raja dan rakyat berpisah tiada’ (There is no separation between ruler and his people) can be revved up in the current scenario, Nik Ahmad Kamal said it would need the cooperation of all parties.
“In today’s context, the relationship tradition between the two has entered a more challenging phase because the current generations are less sensitive towards the monarchy and nation.
“As such, the people, the government and non-governmental organisations, as well as the institution of monarchy itself, should work together to nurture a better understanding of the importance of this institution so that it will continue to be respected,” he explained.
Nik Ahmad Kamal also said that in line with the changing times, the monarchy should also be sensitive to the changes in perceptions to ensure good relations prevail between the ruler and the people.
“This situation should be anchored to a more realistic benchmark which is the Federal Constitution because it provides clear guidance on how the relationship between the ruler and the people should be carried through,” he said. – Bernama