KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has denied rejecting the Malay royal institution as perceived by some groups in the aftermath of delays in his swearing in ceremony and the recent appointment of the Attorney General (AG).
Instead, the 92-year-old who lived to become prime minister twice asserted that his controversial actions after the May 9 general election have strictly adhered to the law as he wishes to save the royal institution, Sinar Harian reported today.
“I do not reject the Rulers but I believe that if the monarchs do something that is wrong, we should take action to save them.
“We have laws that include the set-up of a special court for the Rulers,” he told the Malay daily in an interview conducted at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya yesterday.
He was asked what he can do to guarantee good relations with the Rulers, government and rakyat.
Dr Mahathir said that care must be taken to prevent the royal institution’s reputation from being tarnished.
“We must take care. Rulers should not be involved in things that the people dislike. The people have no power but when they are angry, they will rebel,” he was quoted saying.
During his previous tenure as the fourth prime minister which lasted 22 long years, Dr Mahathir had led the then Barisan Nasional government to table amendments to Article 182 of the Federal Constitution that stripped the monarchs of their legal immunity.
The changes included establishing a special court for sultans who violated the law to be tried by their peers in the Conference of Rulers. The amendments took effect March 30, 1993.
In his interview with Sinar Harian, Dr Mahathir reiterated that the Federal Constitution and the country’s laws are paramount, and said even the Rulers are subject to them.
“We want to return to the rule of law. When something happens that does not follow the law, then there will be anger,” he told the paper, alluding to the hours-long delay on May 10 before he was sworn in as the seventh prime minister and leader of the Pakatan Harapan pact at 9.30pm that day.
Dr Mahathir said the delay in his swearing-in ceremony should not have happened. Similarly, he indicated that the days-long delay in the appointment of senior private lawyer Tommy Thomas as AG to replace Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali was unnecessary.
But Dr Mahathir believes most of the nine Malay Sultans and Rajas who make up the Conference of Rulers are aware of the need for the country to abide by the rule of law.
“But I feel the Rulers realise this because many of them are making effort to ensure they and the Agong abide by the law.
“Actually the majority of the Rulers disagree with the delay in appointments. There were some who came to meet me, some who tried to calm the situation, including my delay in taking the oath and also questioned the appointment of the Attorney General. And this was resolved by advice among the Rulers themselves,” he told Sinar Harian.