Outgoing Senate president asks govt to reinstate reduced powers of Malay Rulers

Outgoing Dewan Negara president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran delivers his speech in Parliament June 22, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Outgoing Dewan Negara president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran delivers his speech in Parliament June 22, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — Outgoing Dewan Negara president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran today called on the government to reinstate the reduced powers of the Malay monarchs.

Noting the importance of the Malay Rulers, Vigneswaran, whose term ends today after completing two terms as Senate chair, said that the political turbulence which led to instability in the country was only put to rest after the Agong intervened.

“It is my desire as the retired Yang di-Pertua, to call on the government to retract the controversial 1993 amendment which was hotly debated till today. Which in my opinion, contravenes the Federal Constitution, whereby the amendment was made without an agreement from the Malay Rulers Council, and had reduced the powers of the Malay Rulers, and the sovereignty of the royal institution must be returned.

“I stand corrected. We have to reinstate the Malay Rulers’ powers, like it was during the Independence era,” he said in his speech at his farewell luncheon today.

During his previous tenure as the fourth prime minister, which lasted 22 years, then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had led the then Barisan Nasional (BN) 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.

“Among many important matters, the powers of the Malay Rulers are very much needed in guaranteeing the political stability and future of the multi-racial community in this country,” Vigneswaran further said in his speech.

When met by reporters later, Vigneswaran said that he has already done his research on the matter, after attending a Speakers conference in Johor previously, and is planning to release the 72-page report soon.

In an interview with Sinar Harian in 2018 after assuming control of Putrajaya, 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.

“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.

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