KUALA LUMPUR, August 14 — Malaysia’s constitutional monarchy system does not empower the Yang diPertuan Agong with absolute authority to approve laws passed by Parliament, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The prime minister said that as a democratic nation, the voice of the people was paramount.
“If the Agong is given the absolute power to do so then the rakyat have lost that power,” Dr Mahathir said in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He was answering Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar who asked if the amendments to the Federal Constitution made in 1993 should still be retained.
The amendments made to six articles at the time resulted in the stripping of royal immunity and the establishment of a special court to try members of royalty.
Dr Mahathir also answered another question by Kota Baru MP Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan who asked if the 1983 constitutional amendments regarding royal assent for Bills and laws could be strengthened on the state level.
The 1983 amendments state that if the Agong for any reason does not sign a Bill after being presented with it for 15 days, the Bill would automatically become law. Further changes eventually resulted in Bills becoming law without royal assent after 30 days instead.
“Most of the states have approved of the amendments, be it those under Rulers or Governors. However I am aware that the Ruler of my state (Kedah) at the time did not sign the law,
“Yet we have no power to force (signatures) Perhaps in other countries but not us. This (the signing) is a formal arrangement regarding our respective duties,” he said, referring to the branches of government.
Dr Mahathir noted that since the Federal Constitution “more or less” copies the United Kingdom’s unwritten constitution, the formal arrangement meant that no one can deny the people’s power in forming laws.
“If it is not approved on a state level but then something occurs which involves federal laws which have been granted Royal Assent by the Agong, then federal law usually supersedes state laws,” he said.